Brown's in Kruger April 2011 *

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:39 pm

April 27th Satara

Morning Drive: S100/S41/S90/S127/Timbavati/H1-4

The famous S100 was the route for the morning and the fairly roundabout drive was planned to end at Timbavati for a skottel breakfast, so cooler boxes, etc made their way into the cars just after 6am.

There’s a small bridge just outside camp on the way to the S100 turnoff and without warning a small female leopard walked out of the bush and lay down on the edge of the riverbed. It was overcast and still fairly dark, but Supernova managed these 2 pics before she got up and walked under the bridge.

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Our first sighting on the S100 was a herd of buffalo relaxing.

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Next up we found plenty of general game

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The resident waterbuck, that we always find on the S100 appeared and then a lone elephant having his breakfast.

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Now, everyone was warned that this was going to be a long drive with no bogs along the way and the plan was to go up the S41 to the S90, but The Cow seemed rather uncomfortable next to me and the rats were unnaturally quiet, so I asked “Who needs the loo?” There was a unanimous show of hands, so I jumped on the walkie talkie and told Supernova that we were heading down to N’wanetsi for a pit stop. He indicated that they would follow.

About 3km before one turns off the S41 to head towards N’wanetsi there’s a bridge over a dry riverbed and as we came over the hill and headed down to the bridge the SO shouted “Leopard!!” A large male was lying in the river bed about 10 meters from the road.

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The loo break was now going to have to wait, because I wasn’t going anywhere.

The leopard was breathing heavily and fast, which made us wonder what had happened just before he chose to relax in the riverbed. Every few minutes he would groom himself and look around, but never seemed stressed by the crowd that was gathering.

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After about half an hour the leopard was still snoozing in the riverbed and Supernova indicated that they were going to N’wanetsi. A few minutes later I saw that my clan were all sitting with crossed legs, so I took one last pic and moved on.

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Supernova made a mate at N’wanetsi and he indicated that there was a Male lion at Sonop, so it was off down the H6 to see if he was still around. Upon arrival there was no lion around, but it ended up perfect timing as he came out the bush for a drink a few seconds later.

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After his drink and some territory marking he was off back to the shade of the bush, so we headed back to the S41 and continued with the planned route.


We arrived back at “our” leopard just a few seconds before he got up and headed for thicker bush, but it was then that we noticed why he was spending so much time out in the open riverbed. He had a very bad limp, but he seemed ok when he went up the bank and into the bush.

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Next up were a couple of waterbuck and stacks of giraffe.

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There seemed to be far more general game all over the place, especially when compared to what we had found in the Lower Sabie area, but maybe it just seemed that way because we could see further due to the more open landscape. Next we found an ostrich, a secretary bird and then a kori bustard.

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Suddenly a jackal appeared out of nowhere and it caused a ruckus in my car as the kori bustard wet itself and took off across the grass with the smaller jackal in pursuit. After a few seconds the jackal had second thoughts and backed off.

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Just before the S90 meets the H1-4 an oncoming car waved us down. The driver excitedly told us that a pride of about 16 lion had just crossed the tar and were heading our direction.

We eventually spotted them about 200m away and they were all lying down and too far for a picture, but the SO managed to get them on the video camera with its superior zoom. It looked as if they had settled in the shade for the day, so we continued on.

We only arrived at Timbavati picnic site at about 10:30am, so the legs were again crossed and stomachs were growling.

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The drive back to Satara was fairly quiet, but I stopped at the sighting board and managed to get another pic of the local Bushbaby having a snooze.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:40 pm

Afternoon Drive: H1-4 to the S127 turnoff and back

It had been another long morning, so we relaxed in camp until just after 4pm and chose a short drive to round the day off.

There was plenty of general game just outside camp at the small waterhole just in front of Stanley guest house. I couldn’t help feeling envious of the Stanley guests as we have spent 1 night there and it rocks. A few kudu ended up coming close enough for a pic.

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Now, I think that many mites have made up animal wish lists, etc and there were 2 individuals, a serval and a pangolin that I have never seen in the wild, but one of them was casually walking in the middle of the tar road and this is one that nobody in our group had ever seen in KNP.

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I could hear Supernova and Melly coming from the walkie talkie and at the same time Hawkeyes shouted in my ear “Aardvark”, which caused me to swerve all over the road, but we managed a few more pics before he disappeared in the grass.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... u49t4ZvuGs

We all so stoked at finally finding a pangolin and ended up chugging along for the next couple of km talking more about it than looking for animals, but we eventually stopped to take a few pics of another lone elephant.

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There were 2 cars stopped up ahead just before the S127 turnoff and as we slowly approached the SO shouted “lion”, so I slammed on brakes, but couldn’t see a thing looking into the setting sun.

After the entire clan spent 5 minutes looking down the SO’s pointed finger, we eventually all could see her.

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She was very interested in a herd of zebra that were walking towards her from about 100m away and this got the excitement going in both cars as we thought it was a done deal.

The zebra continued until they were about 50m from her, stopped, started grazing, and the lioness lay down disappearing in the grass.

We sat, sat and sat. I got bored and started photographing ground hornbills that were approaching from the other side of the road.

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Eventually a large lone zebra started to approach the bush containing the lion and we all sat with cameras ready for the action, but the zebra was now 5m from the bush and still there was no action.

The zebra eventually must have nearly tramped on the lion, because it suddenly did a panicked u-turn and returned to the herd, but amazingly the lion seemed to get a bigger fright than the zebra. She must have been snoozing and woke up finding a zebra looking down at her.

Supernova announced on the walkie talkie “What a wet of a lion” and we all agreed.

The commotion caused another lioness and later a large cub to come out of hiding and walk over to join the “wet” in the bush.

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We waited until the Garmin said that we better start heading back to camp for Melly’s spaghetti bolognaise.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:42 pm

April 28th Satara

Morning Drive: H1-4/S127/Timbavati/S127/H1-4/S90 (5km)/back to Satara

This day can only be described as the day of the lion.

The above is what the drive ended up, but the original plan was to drive up to where we had seen the lions the day before and then head back down the S90, S41 and then the S100 to camp.

The first 15 km of the H1-4 were relatively quiet, but about 2km before the planned u-turn spot we saw 3 cars on the side of the road. The walkie talkie went “Lion on the right”, so Supernova and I headed to the right of the stopped cars and started taking pics of the lion. The rules state that one should park on the side of sighting, so I couldn’t understand why the other cars were far on the left.

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After a few minutes Supernova shouted on the walkie talkie “Lion on the left and they are eating something”. No wonder the other cars were on the left and ignoring the lion on the right

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A mother and a large cub were having a feast.

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Supernova and Melly had a descent spot where they could see between 2 cars, but we had to look through another cars window to check, so I cruised around the gang and found a different view.

5 minutes later the mother got up, walked past us, and disappeared into the bush next to the road about 30 meters from us, but the cub continued to feast.

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A few minutes later the cub realized that mom had left and nervously got up, looked around, and then followed the same route as mom, disappearing into the bush.

We sat around for another 20 minutes looking at the wildebeest carcass, but the lions didn’t seem to want to return and the scavengers were taking their time to arrive.

Every now and then a jackal popped up out of the bush in the distance, but they wouldn’t approach with the lions hiding in the bush.

We were patiently waiting when something caught my eye in my side mirror. There was movement in the bush 30 meters behind us where the lions had disappeared, so I put the car in reverse and slowly started moving in that direction.

The SO and rats all started chirping “What are you doing? Where are you going? You are going to lose our spot, Dad!!!” I ignored the outburst and continued to reverse.

We stopped 30m away from the crowd and I switched the car off.

Then the SO started “Have you gone crazy!!” I was now unsure of the decision, so lost my cool “Shut up and keep quiet!!!!” A few seconds later there was movement again, but this time about 4 meters from the car window. Mother lion was crawling quietly through the long grass towards us.

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She got comfortable with us and then started eating grass

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We sat quietly with her for about 10 minutes and then the cub gained some confidence and came out of the bush to join mom.

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The crowd picked up on the fact that we had some action and started arriving, which caused mom and junior to retreat back into the bush.


The lions had disappeared into the bush again and after another 20 minutes it looked as if they intended to stay hidden, so we decided to head on up to Timbavati for a loo break and a smoke.

The first few km of the S127 produced a couple of ostriches and then, much to the SO’s horror, some large elephants that were fairly close to the road.

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By the time we returned to the wildebeest kill a couple of attractive scavengers had arrived.

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This rascal also showed up, but was still too nervous to approach the kill.

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We managed to get a better view of the wildebeest as many had moved on, but too my surprise the rats didn’t appreciate it “Gross Dad!!”, “It’s disgusting”, “Where’s it’s lips?” , “I’m glad that I’m not a lion!!”, “What’s the vulture doing?”, etc.

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While we were waiting for more vultures, etc to arrive Supernova managed to snap a pic of this bird.

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I have tried to find the model in the SO’s bird book, but no luck, so please can the experts help out with this one.

20 minutes later there were still only 2 vultures at the scene of the crime, so I suggested to Supernova that we move on for a short drive down the S90 and see if we could find the large lion pride from the day before and then come back to check if the action had increased at the kill.

The first km of the S90 produced a steenbok and waterbuck close to the road.

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At the Mavumbye waterhole we found a massive herd of buffalo.

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We spent about 10 minutes with them and then decided to drive a few more km before turning around and heading back to the wildebeest kill.

200m later we found these guys surveying the scenery with interest.

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The kings seemed fairly wide awake and attentive for this time of the day.

We also noticed that they had no shade and the sun was starting to come out, so we decided to sit, wait and watch. Strangely all the other cars except one left.

After about 15 minutes another lion started roaring in the distance, which got our attention and the 2 kings. Much to our surprise the other car left and continued down the road.

A minute later the one king got up and started off with purpose in the direction that the roaring had come from. I immediately got over excited and started off in the same direction, but forgot that there were 2 lion.

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The first one was heading straight towards us, which increased the excitement and all the rats were talking at once, but about 15 meters from us he started to run, which caused photographic chaos in our car.

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As he crossed in front of us we only managed blurred half lion/side mirror pics, but I also stalled the car pressing the wrong peddles, which added to the scene chaos. Suddenly the SO shouted “The second one is coming”

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He also ran across the road, but stopped a few meters from our cars and posed for a few pictures, which caused an enormous fight in the back seat, as Bushpiggy and Hawkeyes were both fighting for a spot at the window to take a pic and Albert, who sits in the middle and is too young for a camera, got caught in the middle of the rugby scrum.

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Bushpiggy, much to our surprise, managed the pic below with an old 3 MP hand me down camera. Hawkeyes has a slightly better camera, but blamed Bushpiggy’s big head for ruining her pics.

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The first guy had disappeared so we followed the 2nd chap for about 1km down the road, but he eventually figured out where his brother had gone and disappeared into the bush after him, but stopped first for some tree climbing, nail sharpening and territory marking.

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We then decided to head back to the wildebeest kill, but strangely even the vultures had left and the lions hadn’t returned.

We were all hungry, so decided to head back to Satara for breakfast.

Back in camp the all the rats and The Cow spotted some mongoose in front of our units and all went on a leopard crawl photo mission.

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Hawkeyes had fun stalking francolins that were having a sand bath, but Bushpiggy soon charged in and ruined that sighting, which resulted in tears and another squabble.

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After lunch Supernova and I took the kids on a long walk around camp and explored the camping section for future cheaper trips, but soon realized that the rat’s legs were running out of steam, so headed back to our units.

What we did notice in the camping section of Satara is that all walks of life visit KNP and a major concern for me would be noisy neighbours and many campers seemed to fit that profile and that would destroy our KNP experience, so we left the camping section rather unsure if it’s something that we wanted to try in the future. Our two families have camped many times on the coast and at inland dams, but after a few nights of rave music and shouting until 4am, our motivation for camping is in reverse. Maybe KNP campers are more respectful of others, so I intend to explore many camping sections at night during our August trip.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:43 pm

Afternoon Drive: H6/S41/S90/H1-4

This was a long drive for us to do in the afternoon and we had doubts that it was doable, but decided to reassess at the S100/S41 intersection.

The H6, although we have found honey badger on it once before, has never been one of our successful drives and this afternoons probably rates as one of the worst, as the southern section had just been burnt and there was almost no life all the way to the S41.

Halfway to the S41/S100 intersection Hawkeyes shouted “I spotted ears back there”, so I stopped and got on the walkie talkie to Supernova, who was behind us, and relayed the message, but the SO and I thought that it was just the imagine running wild again, but Supernova said “We have a lion”.

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There were plenty of vultures all around, so we assumed that there must be a kill somewhere in the long grass. After 10 minutes the lion was still parking off and the clock was ticking, so we decided to move on.

The S41/Gudzani low water bridge had the usual hippo gang hanging around in the stagnant water.

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The next sighting still has us rolling with laughter when we watch the trip video and I will quote directly from the commentary.

Halfway up the S41 to the S90 we crossed another low water bridge and as we drove up the hill on the other side a large elephant was standing on the side of the road, so I stopped to take a pic. The next minute, its ears went back and it started forward, so I started to reverse slowly.

Supernova came across the walkie talkie “Why are you reversing? Ha-ha”. My response was “Would you like to be in front now?”

The SO is terrified of elephants and the last time this happened she dropped the video camera, started crying and tried to dig to Australia through the passenger foot well.

I was sure that he would just cruise off into the bush, but he seemed to get more upset and accelerate towards us, so the speed of reverse increased.

Then the SO started “He’s flapping, reverse!!!”

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I was trying to reverse over the narrow bridge, so wasn’t even looking at the elephant, but the next high pitched string of shrieks got me to speed up “He’s coming, He’s coming!!!”

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Then the flood gates opened up “He’s chasing us, He’s chassssssing us”. We all realized now that this guy meant business, so we were both motoring backwards down the road.

I still wasn’t looking at the elephant, as I was trying to remain on the road at this speed in reverse, but Bushpiggy got me more excited when she started shouting “He’s running, he’s running”

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... hmEamrNhDM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4nEvYqp ... r_embedded


As soon as he crossed the bridge he calmed down, looked at us one more time and then wandered off into the bush. We think that he just wanted to cross the bridge and we were in his way.

A little further on we found plenty of general game including this young impala having tea.

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The S90 produced a large number of elephants, but due to the fact that the SO’s eyes were still on storks we stopped a long way from them and waited for a gap to get past.

Next up we found a couple of Kori Bustards and as we joined the H1-4 a large number of buffalo.

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A few km up the H1-4 we found our lions from the morning, including the inquisitive cub.

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A few beers and a braai ended an eventful day, but we were all a little sad to be leaving Satara.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:45 pm

April 29th Satara to Skukuza

Morning Drive: H1-4 (15km)/Satara/H1-3/S33 Vutomi Dam/Tshokwane/H1-2/Skukuza

The plan was to take a slow drive down to Skukuza on the H1-3, but the clan all nagged us to go up the H1-4 and check out the wildebeest kill from the day before first. We gave in under the pressure and agreed to go and have a quick look.

Our first sighting for the morning was this giraffe next to the road.

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The entire way up I was moaning about the time and the fact that it would all be over, but as we neared the area I shut up rather quickly.

The first thing that I noticed, besides the 2 other cars that were on the side of the road, was the large pack of hyena that were shrieking up and down the side of the road and it looked like something that you see on Animal Planet, so I started to accelerate ahead of Supernova towards them.

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Suddenly the SO was shouting “What are you doing!!!” Confused I said “Following the hyena!!” The response was “You just drove right past the lions!!!”

A quick reverse produced this

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Overnight the lions had dragged the kill closer to the road and they were now only a few meters away.

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The shock of seeing lions fighting and eating that close kept the rats quiet for about a minute and then the frantic fight started for the window seat, which caused another blown head gasket in the front, but they soon realized that if they were quiet they could hear the lions eating, growling, etc

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After about 15 minutes the hyena started to push the boundaries again and 1 lioness took major exception to this, jumped up, walked halfway to them and started twitching her tail aggressively, but the hyena completely ignored her.

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The remaining 2 lions on the kill seemed very interested in the occupants of 1 of the cars and totally ignored the hyena, but I was glad that they weren’t looking at our rats like that.

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The stroppy lioness decided that it was time to teach the hyena a lesson and started to slowly stalk them, which definitely caused them to start to pay more attention.

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Suddenly the lioness took off after them, which resulted in shrieks from the hyena and howling laughter in the car. Our youngest “Albert” shouted “Why is the lion playing catches with the hyena”, but the rest of us realized how lucky we were to witness this interaction.

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The lioness gave up eventually and collapsed in the grass for a rest, but the hyena had regrouped and launched a counter offensive.

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The lion took off after them again, but soon gave up and lay down again. The hyena got the message and started to move off, but it soon became apparent that they had changed their tactics and were now sneaking around the cars to try a different angle of attack.

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While everyone was distracted by the game of tag, junior had snuck in unnoticed to have some chow.

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The stroppy hyena chasing lion soon returned to the kill and junior took off and then slowly snuck back in for more chow, but was very wary of stroppy who kept lifting her lips and growling.

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The hyena gave up their tactical angle of attack and decided to relax and wait it out, but the hypoactive jackal kept on running around.
The slightly slowed up hyena often never spotted the jackal until they were fairly close and then jumped each time in fright, which resulted in more howls of laughter from the rats.

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The 1 jackal in particular had major guts and got to within a few meters of the lions at one stage.

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It was now about 7:45am and we had spent more than an hour watching this interaction.

The sun was getting up, the crowd was growing, the lions were starting to move off and we were supposed to be driving to Skukuza, so reluctantly we decided to head back to Satara for a loo break and then continue down to Skukuza.


I was a little stressed as it was getting late and put everyone under pressure to hurry up in the public loo at Satara, which caused a few pelican faces, but in a few minutes we were back on the road.

2 km before the S126 turn off, where cell signal disappears, my phone rang and it was Satara reception and they stated that The Cow’s purse had been found by the cleaning staff. It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on and then the gasket went again, which resulted in a rapid u-turn, much to Supernova’s confusion, and we were on our way back to Satara.

The purse contained more than R1000 in cash, bank cards and our ID documents, so we were a little concerned, but due to the great work by the Satara staff, all was returned. We tried to find the cleaning lady who had handed it in at reception, but she was somewhere in the camping section by the time we collected the purse and reception for some reason wouldn’t release her name.

All I can say is “Hats off to Satara cleaning staff”

I mailed Satara management when we got home and they assured me that the correct person would receive credit for this honest act.

Finally we were on our way to Skukuza

Just outside Satara at the little bridge where a leopard had been a few days before, we spotted a car stopped on the bridge in the distance and as we got closer to the bridge we could see that the driver was waving and pointing at something.

It looked like he was pointing under the bridge, but on the other side of the road, so I immediately assumed that there was a leopard under the bridge and accelerated towards that angle, but now the pointing and waving became frantic and the passenger joined in, so confused I stopped.

Now they were pointing at the front of my car, so more confused I shouted out the window “What’s up”. The driver shouted back “Reverse and look on the road in front of your car”.

I was shocked to see that my leopard had turned into a leguaan, but this one was on Bushpiggy’s wish list, so she was stoked.

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Next up were some buffalo

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When we arrived at Marheya waterhole there were a few cars parked on the side of the road and a closer look produced lions sleeping in the bush next to the waterhole. Supernova was lucky enough to capture the male as he sat up for a quick look around.

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The next 15km of the H1-3 were relatively quiet, so at the S33 turnoff we decided to go and check out Vutomi dam as we heard rumours at Satara that there had been 3 large male lions hanging around the dam.

Our first sighting was this elephant that had just had a mud bath, but he didn’t like our company so we moved off.

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The road to the dam was fairly quiet, but there were no other cars, so we could relax and enjoy the peace of the bush. The dam had a few of the usual suspects hanging around, but no elusive male lions, so we decided to do a u-turn and head back to Tshokwane for a loo and smoke break.

Halfway back down the S33 we found a giraffe on the side of the road, so we stopped to watch him for awhile. Suddenly something caught my eye walking down the middle of the road a long way off, so I asked the SO “What’s that in the road”. We were quiet for a few seconds and then she shouted “Leopard” The leopard spotted us at about the same time and ducked off into the bush.

We accelerated up to where the leopard had been, slowed and carefully studied the bush. Suddenly, maybe because I also got a fright, it was my turn to shout “Leopard”. A little female was lying in a bush right next to us.

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She wasn’t much bigger than leopard cubs that we have seen over the years and the SO must have also thought this, because she told the rats to keep an eye open out the other windows just in case there was a mother around.

She was extremely nervous and as I moved my car to get a better angle she took off deeper into the bush, which caused screams of horror from the rats, but about a minute later she slowly came back out.

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She stood very still and just stared at us for about 2 minutes and it almost looked as if she wanted to either eat one of the rats or play with them.

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Just before the S33 rejoins the H1-3 we spotted this owl. I think that it’s a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl.

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Our plan was to buy chow at Tshokwane, but by the time we arrived the queues were 20 people deep in the shop, so much to the rat’s horror we postponed chow time until we reached Skukuza, but Supernova and I had to bribe the rats with chips, biltong and sweets before they accepted the delay for food.
The H1-2 produced a few of the usual suspects, but it was nearing midday, so we didn’t expect to find any action, but as we arrived at Mantimahle Dam we found the crowd and lions.

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They were in thick bush and again there were just too many people, so after a quick pic we moved on.

The low water bridge just before the H1-4 produced a junior croc.

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It was about 1pm when we finally arrived at Skukuza and thought that we would try our luck at an early book in, but came short, so headed off to Selati restaurant to watch the end of the royal wedding and grab a hamburger. Surprisingly Selati was quiet, that’s until the rats arrived.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:46 pm

Afternoon Drive: H4-1/Nkuhlu/H1-2/Skukuza

We decided to go on a short leopard mission this afternoon and the H4-1 has produced for us many times in the past, so it was the chosen route, but unfortunately it again was unusually quiet and Nkuhlu arrived quickly without success.

The bonus for me was that it was late and the Nkuhlu crowds had all left, but the local gangsters had moved in.

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Supernova and I checked out the sighting board, but with so few magnets it was hardly worthwhile. It had been a long day, so we decided to head back for a braai.

The drive back produced a few elephant and our first road kill, which looked like a vine snake. This was the only road kill that we found on this trip, which is a good change from previous trips.

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Supernova managed to test his new camera’s flash on the low water bridge just outside Skukuza. I tried each time mister hippo put his head up but all my flash did was blind everyone in the car.

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It’s always nice being back at the fence for an evening braai and even though no hyena came past while we were braaiing, Supernova managed to get pics of a bush baby that was sneaking around above our braai. (I think that Supernova pays special attention to bush babies above the braai area, because he became a victim of one’s ablutions last year)

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:47 pm

April 30th Skukuza

Morning Drive: H1-2/S36/Nhlanguleni/S33/H1-3/Tshokwane/H1-2/H12/H4-1

The south has always been kind to us with sightings in the past, but for some reason on this trip every time we travelled on previously successful roads in this area we came short and today was no exception.

The first hour produced almost nothing, but luckily things picked up a little at Mantimahle Dam and we arrived just in time to see a few lions walking on the dam wall.

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It was great to see that this pride also had a few juniors with them.

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The lions seemed to be heading down to the water and out of view, so we decided to head round onto the S36 to get a different view, unfortunately so did everyone else, so after a few pics we moved on.

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Jones’s Dam had a few of the usual clan hanging around and no other people, so we hung around a few minutes just watching the scenery and absorbing the peace, but the rats have a time limit of about 2 minutes, so we continued on.

Next up we found a parrot and a kingfisher, which wasn’t exactly what Supernova and I had in mind, but the SO was happily snapping away.

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Lugmag Dam produced plenty general game, a lone buffalo, 2 Saddle bills, a kingfisher, a herd of wildebeest and these waterbuck.

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The last time we were at Nhlanguleni there was a herd of sable at the waterhole and 4 lions a hundred meters off sleeping under a tree, but today it was very quiet and the surrounding bush looked completely different.

Watching the SO’s face as she heads off towards the long drop toilets always makes the trip worthwhile for me though. The rats all go together and the commentary coming from the loo always cracks me up, but today the shrieking seemed louder and Hawkeyes came out the loo with a pelican face.

It seems that Bushpiggy ambushed Hawkeyes on the long drop with her camera and was now proudly showing everybody. Hawkeyes vowed revenge.

On the way back down to the S33 turnoff we found this guy in the road, but there was no hidden leopard in the distance today

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The first couple km of the S33 produced a lone elephant in thick bush that I initially thought was a rhino and then a few vultures and the one I initially thought may be a Cape Vulture, but it couldn’t be (something about the fact that the eye needs to be yellow)

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Vutomi Dam has so much potential and it just feels as if something is about to happen any minute.

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The minutes got longer and the rats more irritating, so we continued on, but the dam does have a few resident hippo and a couple large crocs.

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The rest of the S33 was a disappointment and I was glad that I didn’t have false teeth or need the loo. (Added just for Flutterby)

Tshokwane was again crowded, so after a loo break and a smoke we were back on the road to Skukuza for an overdue breakfast, but just outside Tshokwane we encountered the SO’s favourite road block.

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After a few ignored instructions from the SO we eventually sat quietly and watched the crossing, that’s until this started in front of us.

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The “REVERSE” instruction soon followed, but these 2 were only interested in arm wrestling with each other, so I ignored the orders, which eventually stopped.

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The rest of the drive down to Skukuza was again quiet, which was proving to be the norm on this trip, but on all our other previous trips it had been the place to be.

The low water bridge just before Skukuza again produced the local residents.

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Back in camp we made a late breakfast and decided to relax at Supernova’s unit as it had a view of the Sabie River.

Suddenly Supernova shouted “Check those idiots”

These guys decided to take a stroll to the middle of the old railway bridge, take some pics and stroll back.

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Supernova suggested that SANParks should build a bar at the end of the bridge and charge people for the walk and sundowners, which is an idea that I fancied, but wasn’t sure about the walk back.

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:48 pm

Afternoon Drive: H1-1/S65/H11

The weather had turned a little and it was drizzling on and off, so we left camp late and planned a shorter route.

I never drive in the park with the window closed, so the drizzle was putting a major damper on things for me and to top it off Albert was farting big time in the back, thus after 5 minutes of looking through windscreen wipers I was ready to go back to camp and then to top it off an idiot overtook me and squeezed in behind Supernova.

Unexpectedly, about 2km from Skukuza, Supernova braked hard and stopped, resulting in the overtaking idiot nearly climbing into the back of his car, which caused me to overreact and visually display my irritation.

I was about to voice my irritation when all of a sudden something took off into the bush from in front of Supernova’s car. In situations like this it takes the brain, well mine anyway, a few seconds to react, but the walkie talkie woke me up “Bushpig!!!” and I found myself in a semi stage fright situation screaming “Bushpig!!!” back into the walkie talkie.

I have tried to photograph honey badgers on the move in the bush; however this guy was like a badger on Gummie Berry Juice, but fortunately for us he was running just inside the bush line and parallel to the road.

Eventually he stopped and I managed to snap a pic through the twigs, but it looks more like Gizmo from the Gremlins movie.

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I continued to snap away, but ended up with blurred pig, pig’s bum and bush.

A few seconds later the pig moved closer to the road, giving Supernova the perfect opportunity for a good pic as the pig was right next to their car. I spotted Supernova lining the shot up and then all of a sudden the idiot between us overtook Supernova as he took the pic, which resulted in a perfect pic of the idiot’s car. Now it was Supernova’s turn to voice his irritation.

Melly had their new awesome video camera running, which also takes 14Mp pics and much to our surprise managed an awesome pic just before the idiot overtook.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... ES-iUVTj6U

The idiot also gave the piggy a fright and he was now on the move again, but this time at full sprint. We continued after him for a few more seconds and then he was gone.

We sat quietly for a few seconds absorbing what had just happened, which was a first for us in KNP and then Hawkeyes shouted “Bushpiggy just spotted her cousin”, which broke the peace and resulted in a cat fight in the back seat.

I could have gone back to Skukuza and celebrated with a beer, but we collectively decided to continue with the planned route.

The rest of the H1-1 and the start of the S65 produced many of the usual suspects and the rain had stopped so my window could go down, which resulted in another hairy eyeball look from the SO who had got used to the warm car interior, but fortunately, just before things escalated we spotted 2 cars stopped at a familiar rock a few km into the S65.

We found a lioness and 3 cubs lying on this rock last year, so we all had that lion feeling as we slowly approached, but we were still surprised to find this clan chilling out, especially since it had been raining on and off.

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It was starting to get dark and these guys were doing what lions do best, sleep, so after a few more low light pics, we moved on.

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A few minutes later it started to rain again, so after a quick stop to snap an ellie pic we headed back to camp for a braai.

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Tomorrow was our last full day in the park, so my pelican was starting to grow, but there was one more sighting that we were all secretly desperate to find and maybe my pelican would have been smaller if I had known what tomorrow would bring.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:51 pm

May 1st Skukuza

Morning Drive: H1-1/2km of the S114/Skukuza/H4-1/H1-2/H1-1/S65/S1

The above seems like a crazy route and it’s not what we initially chose for the morning drive, but it’s always good when sightings change your original plan.

When the alarm went off I seriously didn’t want to get out of bed, as it was still drizzling on and off and after 10 days of getting up at 5am I was lacking in motivation and I may have over celebrated the Bushpig sighting at the braai last night.

At 5:30am the SO was up and giving me the stare, so I decided it would be safer to get moving.

I was about to wobble over to Supernova’s unit when a SMS came through “We are going to be 10 minutes late”, which is a good thing, because we were also running late.

We eventually left camp after 6:30am and I still felt like another cup of coffee would have been a better option.

The H1-1 was quiet, but about 2km into the S114, something sprinted across the road approximately a 100m in front of us, so I jumped on the walkie talkie to Supernova, who was behind us and blurted “A hyena just crossed the road”

Now we have been fairly lucky with wild dogs over the last few years, but 2 years ago Melly shouted “Wow look at the hyena” at a particular sighting and got ripped off for days, so as we got closer and the 2nd “hyena” came out the bush, I quietly realized that these weren’t hyena, but I later found out that Melly hadn’t forgotten my walkie talkie response. I blame the malaria tablets.

The SO was suddenly shouting “Wild dog, hello painted doggies”, which woke me up out of my stupor and I was back on the walkie talkie, but this time with the correct ID.

We immediately noticed that the 1 dog was a heavily pregnant female, but because of the bad weather it was still so dark and we were battling to get pics that were in focus.

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Supernova and I were frantically photographing every dog possible, because sometimes they hang around and other times they disappear in a second, but these guys decided to park off awhile, rolled up in balls and went to sleep.

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There were 7 in total and every now and then 1 would get up and wander around.

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After 10 minutes 1 got up and seemed interested in something further up the road and then suddenly took off across the road in front of us.

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A few seconds later the rest got up and followed, which caused panic in our car as I didn’t know if we should be following the lead dog or hanging around with the ones that were bringing up the tail, but fortunately the majority of the dogs stopped in the road in front of us and decided to play, which was an awesome experience for the rats to witness.

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The excitement of having the dogs play in front of our cars caused a strange deterioration in the SO’s speech and we all wet ourselves each time we watch the video of the next 5 minutes, as the SO sounds like a dodgy movie star that comes on after midnight.

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Suddenly they were back on the move and we slowly followed, but 1 guy hung back and I managed to get a pic of him at close range twice with the flash on.

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They then started to move up the road with more purpose and I had to change to 2nd gear to stay with them; however about a minute later 4 of them abruptly stopped and starting sniffing around next to the SO’s window, so I stopped, but I continued to watch the other 3 in the distance who were still on a mission.

Suddenly the lead dog took off after an impala, which caused me to pop the clutch in my excitement and resulted in a greasing from The Cow who hadn’t seen the action in the distance and was still busy admiring the 4 dogs next to her.

This greasing caused an overreaction from me which I can’t post, but the argument was short as the SO spotted the impala running across the road with 2 dogs after it and suddenly changed her tune “There!!, there!!”.

They crossed the road in front of us so quickly that I couldn’t get a shot off, however the SO managed to get them through the windscreen of the car with the video camera, but fortunately for the impala, the dogs gave up after a few seconds.

We continued to follow them for another 5 minutes and then they all ducked off into the bush.

We waited for 10 minutes to see if they would reappear, but eventually decided to head back to Skukuza for a loo break and a smoke as we had been in the car more than an hour already.


We turned left as the S114 joins the tar and did a small 2km search on the tar just in case the wild dogs decided to cross the H1-1 also, but gave up after a few minutes, turned and headed for Skukuza.

Just past the S114/H1-1 intersection it was Melly’s turn to make name as she now shouted “Wild dogs” and there was a large pack of hyena in the road.

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There were 9 of them and these guys looked like serious gangsters!! The one had been collared, but she was full of scars and I wouldn’t like to meet her in a camp at night.

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3 of them started jogging up the middle of the road, but a few others decided to hang around our cars.

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The 1 smaller chap sat looking at us from a few meters away and I couldn’t help wondering if he was selecting which rat he was going to pluck out of the back seat, but he did give me a chance to use my “massive” flash again.

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The rest of the gang realized that the 3 leaders were a long way ahead and started following them up the road, so we joined in on the chase.

After about a 1km I said to Supernova “Are these guys training for the comrades?”, as they just kept on going at pace and now were spread out over 300m of road.

It started to rain again, but still the lead 3 kept the pace on for about another 1km.

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The leader stopped abruptly, looked up the road at the rest of the slow coaches and walked into the bush. Strangely the rest of the gang all did the same thing a few seconds later, but over 300m of road.

Back at Skukuza it was decision time for us again, so we again went for our old leopard faithful, the H4-1/H1-2 loop and yet again it failed us on this trip. All we found were a couple of Boons on the H1-2 and hardly any general game at all, so an hour later we were back at the Skukuza intersection just outside the camp.

I looked at my watch and said to Supernova “It’s still too early to go back to camp”, so we decided to do the H1-1/S65/S1 loop, which confused my rats and they were all shouting “We have already driven this stretch this morning” I think that they were more interested in their stomachs at that stage.

About 1km before the S114 we spotted a car stopped further up the road and as we approached he started waving frantically, so I waved back, which stopped him waving, but started him pointing and then I spotted the reason for his excitement.

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At first I could only see the 1 lying next to the road, but a few seconds later others appeared further up the road. They were on the move so we only had about a minute to snap a couple of pics and then they were gone.

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We sat looking at each other in disbelief, as we hadn’t found the dogs in 9 days and now we had found them twice in less than 3 hours.

We debated going back for breakfast, but eventually decided to finish the planned loop.

The S65 was quiet and by the time we hit the S1 all the lips were on the floor, stomachs were growling and I was getting the stare for continuing with the plan.

A km later the mood changed when the SO shouted “Leopard”, which resulted in the usual panic and I was shouting “Where, where”, “In the tree!! There!!”

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An OSV also stopped and I was having a good laugh at 1 of the “tourists” who was obviously the leopard king and was giving commentary at the top of his voice “Cameras ready, he’s going to move, wait for it, wait for it, hold, hold” He was talking so loud the leopard had no choice but to move. I expected him to say “Action!!” any minute.

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In the end the leopard did move and I cocked it up, because I moved to get a better angle and 2 seconds later the leopard jumped out the tree and ran off.

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 3:52 pm

Afternoon Drive: H1-1/S65/S1/H11

Our usual routes had failed this entire trip, so for our last drive together we chose to drive the tried and tested, besides the only 10 magnets on the sighting board were on the same route.

The H1-1 and half the S65 was “scenic”, but again rather quiet. Maybe at this stage on a KNP trip one needs to sit back, take a deep breath and realize it’s about to end, so every minute needs to be absorbed and appreciated.

As we slowly approached our S65 midway rock we had that same lion feeling and the pride was there again to greet us.

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We spent about 10 minutes with them and then realized that they may sleep the rest of the afternoon, so we continued on.

About 3km before the end of the S65 we came across 4 or 5 cars stopped on the side of the road and as we slowly approached we spotted the reason for the traffic jam.

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They had made a kill of something small and were busy eating 20m off the road, but the crowd was growing rapidly and the situation was getting tense as many seemed to lose the plot in the excitement.

The next thing a granny and gramps, with their grand kids decided to leave the road and drive closer and a few seconds later others followed.

I won’t bore you with all the pics of what happened next, as they are already on the gallery of shame, but the granny decided that she wasn’t close enough and got out the car. (If you look carefully you can see the lion in the background).

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The 1 lion stood up and started checking granny out.

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I lost it and told granny to get her ass back in the car, but to my amazement she smiled and the gramps, who was 70 in the shade, told me to such up. While I was trying to decide whether to also break the rules and snap gramps like a tooth pick, they suddenly reversed and sped off.

The tension continued to grow at the sighting and the occupants of another 3 vehicles decided to climb out their windows, etc, but this wasn’t my cup of tea and the tension was ruining our last drive, so we chose to move on, but the damage to the mood was already done and now I just wanted to get back to camp and report these idiots. (We reported this at Skukuza camp and showed them the pics, but nobody seemed interested.)

A few kilometres later, we found some ellies.

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We hit another traffic jam just before the camp and this little guy was trying very hard to wake up.

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He then gave us this lovely smile to say goodbye.

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Our last braai was a rather sober affair and my pelican was well and truly out.

Supernova and Melly were going out Phabeni Gate in the morning and we were heading down to Croc Bridge and back to KZN via Swaziland, so it was early to bed in preparation for the long drive home.

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