Brown's in Kruger August 2008 *

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Bushcraft
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Brown's in Kruger August 2008 *

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 1:49 pm

August 2008 (Report done by Bushcraft)

Hi Guys;

Supernova has been doing an awesome job, but has decided to pass the token on, so it’s my turn to carry on with the report. (I still think that it’s The Cow and Melly’s turn)
This was our 2nd trip to KNP as a group and planning started the day that we returned from our 2007 trip, but the booking circus started again and we ended up with something completely different to the original plan, but couldn’t wait anyway.

The trip ended up:
23rd August JHB to Blyde Chalets
24th August Blyde Chalets to Tamboti
25th, 26th and 27th August Skukuza
28th August Skukuza to Satara
29th and 30th August Talamati
31st August Talamati to JHB

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 1:50 pm

August 23rd Toti to JHB to Blyde Chalets

We jumped on a flight to JHB on the morning of the 23rd, which was a first for the kids, and their excitement was stretching my patience long before we got on the plane, but I was counting to ten many times for their sake, but that faded about 20 minutes into the flight when the novelty wore off and the junior terrorists came out, “I’m bored, when are we going to be there, what’s that over there, can I go and see, I need the toilet”, so I was counting to 100 by the time we reached JHB.

Supernova and Melly had kindly offered to lend us their 2nd car to use in KNP and half an hour later we were all on our way from JHB airport.

I had never driven such a larny car before (it had a subwoofer and a 5 disc cd player), so I soon started to relax an hour out of JHB.

Our first stop was for pancakes at the Rose Cottage in Dullstroom. After a quick lunch and a family photo we were back on the road.

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The next stop was Mac Mac Falls; unfortunately the viewing ramp was collapsing into the river below and was declared unfit for people, so after a few neck craning pictures, we were on our way to the overnight stop.

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The next stop was Bylde chalets for the night and after getting lost for 20 minutes, we had the fire and beers going. Roxanne aka Punkaloo (after a little cell phone airtime bribery) entertained the kids with a game. You will notice that Madison aka Albert is missing in the picture; the first KNP curse was about to hit.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 1:51 pm

August 24th Blyde Chalets to Tamboti

I must admit, after a few too many klippies and cola, I wasn’t that enthusiastic at 5am the next morning. To top it off Madison had a fever and was starting to come out in spots all over her body. (Our oldest, Meegan, had chicken pox 2 weeks earlier).

The first stop for the morning was Pilgrims Rest for a bit of history viewing. The kids seemed confused as to why we were all posing next to old buildings for photos.

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Madison wasn’t in the best of moods

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The next stop was pinnacle rock and then on to God’s Window. The view is magnificent, but a little scary being up there with small kids that just want to run to the edge and look.

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We moved on to Berlin Falls, which unfortunately didn’t have much water, but still beautiful.

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By the time we reached 3 Rondawels everyone was starting to feel the KNP fever, so the planned route was shortened and we were off to Orpen for the Tambotie book in. The book in went smoothly and soon we were off trying to find our tents.


Now, we had never stayed in a bush camp before and I think Melly and Chantal were a bit taken aback at how secluded the camp was. Supernova and I exchanged a few glances while we were slowly driving through the camp and when we found our tents, which were next to each other, 21 and 22, Supernova and I looked at each other and both cracked up laughing at the same time. The wives didn’t seem to share the joke; maybe it was because we were laughing at their reactions.

Supernova and I spent many school holidays growing up on my uncle’s farm in Richmond and Chantal and I, prior to the kids arriving, had spent many nights camping out in the bush on the farm, so I was confused at her wide eyed reaction now. I will let Supernova comment on Melly and Punkaloo (I’m scared of my sister in-law)

When I asked, “what’s the problem, you have slept in the bush without electricity and toilets many times”, the response was, “there are lions, leopards and things that eat you here!!!”

Tambotie, in my opinion, is very good value for money, as one gets the true bush experience and it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. The units seemed well maintained and all have a perimeter view of the dry river bed, although some have much better views than others, so it’s probably best to book per unit number. Luckily I think that we had 2 awesome units with great a view.

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It was after 3pm by the time we settled into our units and we had already been in the car for most of the day, so we decided to relax in camp and enjoy the atmosphere.

A gang of visitors entertained the kids.

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I decided to do a little exploring around the units and found something about the size of my fist under Supernova’s unit which looked like something a large snake had regurgitated and I couldn’t wait to show and tell, which caused a team search under the unit and a few bigger eyes.

Just before 5pm we took a short drive on the H7 and then to Orpen to get some milk, etc and found these guys on the way.

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Then came the first and second of our big 5

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Tambotie is really special at night, especially if your neighbours prefer the serenity of the bush experience. We found ourselves almost whispering around the braai and even the kids on Supernova’s veranda were behaving themselves. I think that they were afraid of the potential python that may be under the unit.

Suddenly a lion roared in the distance, which caused a few raised eyebrows, so I proceeded to recite “horror” stories from the forum of leopards and badgers in the camp, rumors that they leave the gate open at night, etc, and then to top it off, the lion roared again.

This caused Melly to decide that a team wee was in order, so all eight “ladies” jumped in Supernova’s car and drove to the toilet. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if one of them needed the toilet in the middle of the night. (Fortunately nobody did)

When they returned I was ordered by Chantal to escort her and our kids to our tent, which I did, and returned to join Supernova, Melly and Punkaloo at the fire (LuckyCharm and Tortoise had also gone to bed).

Suddenly there was a movement along the fence line, it was a Civet, something that none of us had ever seen in KNP before and here it was in front of the tent.

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The panic started, Supernova and I were trying to get cameras ready, Punkaloo and Melly were trying to convince Chantal to leave our unit in the dark (without a torch), which caused enough commotion to scare an elephant, but the Civet was still there.

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After a few minutes of excited viewing, Melly who was standing next to me, shouted “Civet, on the neighbours braai”, which caused Punkaloo to leap frog onto the veranda and Chantal to run on the spot. This resulted in the fence Civet and the neighbours “Civet” (we later realized that it was a large genet) to also leap frog into the bush.

We spotted the Civet a few more times after that, but far off in the dry river bed.

After everyone had gone to bed I decided to sit on the veranda of our tent in the pitch black and have the last brandy and coke for the night. After 10 minutes of testing if I could see my hand in front of my face (It’s very dark in Tambotie when all the lights go out), I heard a movement in the bush in front of the tent. Maybe it was the brandy induced bravery, but I decided to walk to the end of the veranda and check it out.

Well, the hiss and growl that came from the bush at the end of the veranda nearly caused me to run through the door of the tent.

I hid in the darkness of the tent for 5 minutes before realizing that I needed to go to the loo. That was the fastest 100m that I think I have ever run.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 1:53 pm

August 25th Tamboti to Skukuza

Morning Drive: H7/H1-3/H1-2/H12/H4-1

I woke at about 4am and lay in bed and listened to the sounds of the bush until just before 6am. I think that we all were a little late this morning, but I’m sure that it had something to do with the 100m walk to the ablutions in the dark.

I took 1 last picture of the view from the tent and just after 7am we were off to Skukuza.


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The H7 was very quiet all the way to Nsemani Dam, where we found friends of RP having a picnic.

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I have never seen Nsemani Dam so empty.

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The resident Fish Eagle was still there though

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We stopped at Satara for a toilet break and managed to find the resident Scops owl before moving on.

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Just before the H1-3/H6 intersection we found the first lion of our trip, but she was way off in the bush.

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We found giraffe, kudu, zebra and elephant on the way down to Tshokwane.

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At Tshokwane we hired a skottel and started our late breakfast, but the wind was howling, so to keep the skottel alight was becoming a mission, but eventually the bacon was going.

Two elderly ladies were sitting opposite us and both looked rather nervous and seemed to be trying to cook breakfast with far too little ingredients, so Chantal asked them if they needed something. They requested peace from the vervet monkeys, as they had just been robbed of their eggs. My middle one, Bushpig, was very keen to stand guard over the remaining ingredients, but forgot that she was eating a large fat piece of bread, but the vervets didn’t miss it and charged.

Bushpig isn’t afraid of many things, but was now running at full tilt across Tshokwane, with a large vervet in attendance, but she refused to release the piece of bread. Punkaloo came to the rescue and Kristen made it to the safety of the adults, but now she had wrecked her Rambo image and had to say “I wasn’t scared, I was only playing with him”. The size of the eyes told a different story.

The road down to Skukuza was quiet, but it was almost the middle of the day, although we did find buffalo and hornbill close to the side of the road.

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Then we arrived at our home away from home. We were in a safari tent (No 314 – the best 4 sleeper tent in Skukuza), Supernova and Melly had a GC4V unit on the perimeter and that was going to be our base for the next few days. Skukuza can be busy, but the perimeter of these units has always been peaceful.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 1:54 pm

Afternoon Drive: H1-2/S83/H12/H4-1

The kids were enjoying their free space and the time out of the car, so we left a little late for the afternoon drive, therefore decided to just do the Marula loop.

A road block of cars waited for us at the intersection of H1-1/H11/H4-1, which is about 300m outside the camp. A leopard had killed an impala or bushbuck (we couldn’t tell from our view) and we had just missed the leopard dragging it in to the tree, but the leopard had got nervous and moved off.

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I was amazed that a leopard would kill this close to probably the busiest intersection in the park.

We waited 20 minutes to see if the leopard would return, but with the bush being so thick in the area of the kill, the leopard may have just been relaxing out of sight at the base of the tree, so the decision was made to carry on with the planned route, rather than wait the entire afternoon for something that may never happen.

The initial part of the H1-2 was very quiet, so we turned onto the S83, with the hope of finding a leopard, as the sighting board had indicated, but no leopard, just a herd of elephants and a smallish troop of baboons.

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The H12 bridge and the H4-1 back to Skukuza was also very slow, we had the usual suspects, but no wow factor yet, so we decided to do “our” little dirt road loop just before Skukuza, which has always produced a leopard for us.

About 200m into the little loop we found our “wow factor” for the drive.

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He was so relaxed and I thought that he was about to fall asleep

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To have a leopard in the tree so close to the side of the road is an awesome experience and even our small one, Madison, was running a commentary. The leopard seemed to get a little edgy as the traffic started to pile up, but then lay down again.

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Time was running out for everyone now, but everyone, including us, waited till the last minute before heading back to camp, which was only 5 minutes away, so the leopard was left in peace again.

Scallywag made his usual appearance just before camp, but we had no time to sit and watch, so we stopped for a quick photo, nearly got hit from behind by frantic drivers and then continued on to start the braai.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 1:56 pm

August 26th Skukuza

Morning Drive: H4-1 to Lower Sabie and Back

Our first major sighting of the morning was an elephant herd crossing the road halfway to Nkuhlu. You will notice how far back we stopped; Chantal was terrified again, the 2007 elephant charge was still fresh in her memory.

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Just before Nkuhlu we found this hippo lying just off the road.

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The hippo wasn’t moving and looked as if it had been in a major fight. We spent 15 minutes trying to find a movement, or any sign of life, but nothing.

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After a walkie talkie conference, we decided to continue on down to Lower Sabie and visit the hippo on our return.

We stopped at Nkuhlu to stretch the legs and the ladies had a rather nervous toilet break

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Just past Nkuhlu we found our first lion for the morning, but he was way off in the river bed.

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A few minutes later I saw what looked from a distance like an impala in the road and then the white tail flicked in the air, leopard about 150m away. By the time both vehicles arrived where it had entered the bush there was only time to take 2 photos before he disappeared.

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The next stop was Lower Sabie for hot chips on the deck, which has turned into a ritual for the kids. We were a little early for the deli staff, but eventually got the chips. The sighting board didn’t show much happening on the other surrounding roads, so we decided to head back on the H4-1 to check out our “dead” hippo.


About 3km outside Lower Sabie Supernova suddenly shouted “leopard”. The walkie talkie gave me such a fright that I slammed on brakes instead of accelerating; the leopard was in the road in front of us. I couldn’t help laughing at the guy in front of the leopard, because I could see the commotion in his car as he saw the leopard in his rear view mirror.

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We managed to get a few more pictures of him as he left the road, but then we lost sight of him in the bush.

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We moved slowly forward in the direction that the leopard seemed to be moving when suddenly Melly or Punkaloo spotted him and he was stalking something. About 50m to the left of the leopard was a large rock which had 2 klipspringer sitting on top.

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The klipspringer new that something was up and moved around nervously

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Without warning he charged the rock, but the klipspringer were wise to what was going on and the distance was too large for the leopard to cover, so in a few hops the lucky klipspringer escaped.

The leopard settled on the rock where the klipspringer had been and decided to suntan. (We now call this leopard rock every time we drive past). After 10 minutes he started sniffing all the holes and cracks in the rock, but found nothing and soon became bored.

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After another 5 minutes something caught his eye down in the river bed and he started off down the rock.

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We had been watching him from the small bridge opposite the rock, but now I thought that if I ducked down the small dirt loop lookout 20m ahead we would have a better view of him, so off I went smiling to myself that we had got the jump on everyone, but when I arrived a massive tree blocked the entire view and others had followed me, so we were parked in. (Supernova and Melly stayed on the bridge and still had a view of him)

Then the comments started next to me “You have stuffed this up, you always have to move, now I have twigs in front of me”, and the response started “Shut up and film”, “I’m filming twigs, you really messed this one up”.

I won’t repeat what was said after that, but we had to apologize to the kids later and I had to cut that peace out when editing the video.

While the above was going on the leopard moved off into the bush

We moved on to the N’watimhiri causeway, but the mood in the car was still rather tense. Halfway down the causeway road there’s a small loop that allows one to look over the Sabie River bed, but there already was a car parked there and Supernova had continued on past, so we also continued.

2 minutes later a car came rushing up behind me and I remember thinking “Now’s not the time”. I was about to slam my brakes and show them the finger, when they pulled up next to me and signaled me to stop, which I did and said “What”.

I must admit that I felt a little embarrassed when I saw that the occupants were an elderly couple, who also seemed shocked at my reaction and I think that my face was bright red by this stage. They said “Why did you drive past the lions”, I had that same reaction “What”, now completely confused, “There’s a mating lion couple lying in the river bed”

I thanked them profusely, got on the walkie talkie to Supernova, did a u-turn and headed back.

We arrived just in time to see the female disappear into the reeds, who was followed a few seconds later by the male that had been lying on a rock.

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When we arrived at our “dead” hippo location he was gone? We fiddled around going forward and backwards, etc. Chantal suddenly spoke again for the first time since the leopard rock incident, “It wasn’t here, you are confused again” and then proceeded to look out the passenger window. I wanted to say “A marked point on the Garmin doesn’t lie you @$%^#^%”, but decided that I should rather let sleeping dogs lie.

Suddenly Chantal shouted “Hippo” and there he was, not dead at all and on the other side of the road.

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The drive back to Skukuza was quiet, but at least the mood in the car had improved.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 1:57 pm

Afternoon Drive: H11/Lake Panic/Paul Kruger Gate and Back to Skukuza

I had never been to Lake Panic and was keen to check it out, Supernova seemed a little nervous about going with our troop, but we went anyway.

When we arrived at Lake Panic and I saw the gang of serious photographers, dirty looks, etc I realized Supernova’s concerns, but we had arrived at just the correct time, elephants were drinking, hippos cruising and birds all other the place.

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I can only imagine how awesome it must be to sit alone in the hide and just wait and watch, but it’s not a place for small kids that battle at the best of times to keep quiet, so a few quick photos and back on the road.

The road to Paul Kruger Gate was very quiet, so about 2km before the gate we turned around and started back to Skukuza. A few minutes later Chantal said “Stop an elephant, I want a photo”. I was firstly amazed that she wanted to photograph an elephant, because she normally tells me to “move” and we already had so many elephant pictures, but then a strange thing happened.

The elephant walked into a tree and with ease just pushed it over. It’s something that we had never witnessed before and Chantal caught the whole thing on camera. I initially started off by saying “Hurry up with the picture” to “Did you get that” and Chantal is still proud of her photo sequence today.

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When we arrived at the Skukuza intersection, just outside the camp, it was about 5:15pm, so we decided to go and do our little leopard loop on the H4-1.

A few minutes later we bumped into a giraffe that was trying to reach leaves at the top of a tree and the long tongue caused great delight for the kids.

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A km later we bumped into a KNP traffic jam, it was our leopard again, but in thick bush, so we took a few quick photos and headed back to camp.

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Later Supernova and I enjoyed another KNP braai.

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Madison’s chicken pox was starting to gather momentum, so our safari tent that night wasn’t the best place to be, but the neighbours snoring was even more irritating then her odd cry.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 1:59 pm

August 27th Skukuza

Morning Drive: H4-1 to Lower Sabie and Back

The day before had produced 3 leopards along this stretch for us, so we decided to do it again and hoped for the same success.
Our leopard loop failed this morning so we continued on down to the H12 bridge, but a few km before the bridge we found a car stopped on the side of the road and Melly found out that we had missed lions by only a few seconds and that they came up from the Sabie River, crossed the tar, and were heading deeper into the bush.
Supernova and Melly did a quick Garmin plot and Melly said “They are walking towards the dirt road loop that runs adjacent the tar, but deeper in, so you go that way up the loop and we will go this way”

The excitement was now fever pitch in my car, because this intercept plan made logical sense to even the kids and to top it off we had given the growing crowd the slip.

Supernova and Melly got them just as they entered the bush on the lower loop, so they came round to the top loop to join us. The plan worked perfectly and the first one crossed the road just in front of us.

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The photo below was taken by Supernova and the vehicle behind the lions is us, we were the only 2 cars there.

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It was 3 young males and they seemed very nervous. We were all wondering if a larger male had chased them, or if they were out of their territory.

Just before Nkuhlu the walkie talkie went again “Lion in the road”. She was walking down the middle of the road straight towards us and once again we were the only cars there. Who said that the H4-1 is crowded?

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As she got closer Chantal started “Hayden, the kids windows are down” (I had locked the window controls from the main panel to stop them playing), a few seconds later “THE KIDS WINDOWS”. She was very close now and I didn’t want to take my eyes off her, so I felt for the controls and started closing their windows.

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The next thing a scream erupted from the back seat, which gave the lion and us a fright. Madison had sneakily pocked her nose through the open back window to get a better view of the lion and I had just closed her head in the window. The screaming lasted until the lion was out of sight and Madison has never sat next to the window again in KNP.

We had a few of the usual suspects after that, but generally quiet the rest of the way to Sunset Dam, which is where we stopped next to check out the hippos, crocodiles, etc and then it was off to Lower Sabie for the ritual chips

I was pulling such a face eating one of the chips and my oldest hinted that I looked like a baboon, so I made myself an official RP troop member.

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The sighting board indicated a few red lion dots just south of Lower Sabie, so we decided to drive 5km south and then head back to Skukuza . We only made it 2km down the road and found 2 male lions having a suntan just off the river bed, so we took a few pics, turned around, and headed back to Skukuza.

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Just past Lower Sabie we found this giraffe in the road doing its ablutions, which caused shrieks of delight in the car.

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We decided to take the N’wantimhiri causeway to try and find the mating couple from yesterday.

After a slow search we found them deep in the bush and we could only get glimpses of the female, but the male sat up long enough for a photo, although after a few minutes he lay down again, so we moved on.

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Just before Skukuza we found a few female lions, but they were a long way off and the Skukuza crowd was wild already, so we moved on for breakfast.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 2:02 pm

Afternoon Drive: H4-1 to the N’watimhiri Causeway and back

We knew that the mating lion couple would stay in the causeway area, so off we went to try and get a better picture of them.
The first sighting of the afternoon was this fish eagle just before the causeway.

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When we arrived at the causeway all seemed quiet and I was about to suggest to Supernova that we should return to Skukuza when Chantal asked “What’s that over there, it moved, lions!!”

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They were hiding behind a large rock and only peeking over the top at us. We were quite proud of our plan and sat quietly and just watched them.

An elephant herd started to approach in the distance and one had the feeling that something was going to happen. Chantal decided that she would climb into Supernova’s larger car if ours didn’t start or if I stalled. A mother elephant and baby were moving closer to the lions and suddenly the mom saw the lions and charged them.

The lions took off to the top of the rock and then ran.

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The adrenalin was pumping in the cars now and I was getting frantic instructions “START THE CAR! The elephants are coming”

We started the cars and followed the lions as they approached the road, but the elephants decided to do the same

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I was battling to drive, steer, take photos and control the clutch as my leg was shaking, but Melly kept moving forward and blocking our view and Chantal kept shouting in my ear to stop, so the frantic pressure eventually got to me and I blew a head gasket again, which worked, because when I looked back at the video the car was silent after that, but I had to apologize to the kids again.

Then to top it off the male, who probably was feeling the same as Chantal, decided to do his ablutions right next to the car. You will not believe how bad it stank, which resulted in the kids shrieking with delight again, “Who dropped it, was it you, no it was you, no it was the lion!!!”

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They then moved off a few meters into the bush on the left of the road. I couldn’t understand why Melly was still moving slowly forward away from the lions and then the walkie talkie rang out “Watch out for the elephants hey”

We were so busy watching the lions that we had forgotten about the elephants who now were charging the lions again.

This was all Chantal needed to hear and the begging started “Please go, please go!!!”, then the trumpeting started and that kicked me into first gear rapidly and off we went after Melly who was already escaping.

We laughed from the adrenalin overdose for the next few km.

Just before Skukuza we found RP’s troop cruising on the road

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Our resident scallywag was waiting for us just before the camp

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The braai and balcony after “party” at Supernova’s GC4V was special that night and all that I can say is that I repeated myself a few times, but our snoring neighbour was in full swing already by the time we returned to our safari tent, but after I had thrown a few rocks at his tent he shut up.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2008

Post by Bushcraft » Sun May 20, 2012 2:03 pm

August 28th Skukuza to Satara

We still didn’t have the big 5, so the pressure was on to find a rhino, but I was happy to just be a passenger today, but Chantal refuses to drive my car, so the early start up to Satara was like pulling teeth for me that morning.

The plan was breakfast at Tshokwane and I thought that there would be crowds, etc, but on arrival it was almost deserted.

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The resident bushbuck was still there to entertain the kids

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Halfway to Satara we found our final piece of the big 5 puzzle. There were a few high 5’s in the car.

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A few km later we found what think is a Brown Snake Eagle (Please help with the ID).

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Just before Satara these 2 young male lions were lying in the grass.

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They must have had a kill in the grass somewhere, because this little thief kept irritating the lions. He reminded me of a few of my work colleagues when the boss was around.

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All the usual suspects appeared from about 3 km outside camp and we found this guy having his midday scratch.

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Satara was boiling hot, which surprised me for this time of the year, so we took the older kids for a swim in the pool while the young ones had an afternoon nap. There was a group of teenagers running around and around the circular pool, which created a whirlpool, so I was as excited as the kids to bail in.

Madison had a fever again and Chantal was starting to get nervous that we may be driving back to the Skukuza doctor again.

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