Brown's in Kruger August 2011 *

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Brown's in Kruger August 2011 *

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:39 pm

I tried to duck this one again, but due to some persistent nagging again, I have to start, so...

Bushcraft, Chan (The Cow), Supernova, Melly, Luckycharm, Hawkeyes, Bushpiggy, Albert and Tortoise are back with another TR..........

This trip was the 4th year anniversary of Hawkeyes being Leukemia free and the planning started in 2010. Supernova did his bit in the early morning queue; the Cow harassed central reservations on the phone and between them managed to put a cool trip together.

The trip ended up as below:

6th Satara
7th and 8th Skukuza
9th, 10th and 11th Satara
12th and 13st Lower Sabie

The Cow and I got itchy feet and ended up booking an additional 2 nights; the 4th and 5th at Skukuza and our first night at Jozini on the 3rd.

Supernova and Melly’s rats have different school holidays to my clan, so we have always pulled our rats out of school for the annual August trip, but it’s become more political as the rats have got older, so this would be our last year that we would be able to con the school, therefore it was probably the last August trip that we would be able to do together, so we chose to do it in style and booked 5 of the nights in guest houses.

The Swaziland border rules are still a stuff up, so Supernova and Melly had to bring all our meat, milk and eggs down from JHB and much to my horror, I was again only allowed to take 1 litre of Whiskey across the border. We were also in the park for 2 days before they arrived and therefore had to do some shopping in Komatipoort.

Before I start, I want to warn you guys that this was a very strange trip for us; we battled for leopard, but found way too many lions, so I hope that we don’t bore you with endless lion pics.
We were also fortunate to meet 6 yellows ribbons and all seemed cool and 1 in particular, much to my surprise, even drinks Black Label and is super cool.

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:40 pm

August 3rd Jozini Dam

As soon as the kids finished school we were on our way to our halfway stop over at Nkonkoni camp next to Jozini Dam. We still worked half day, so we had the usual panic to pack the car and get to the camp before dark.

Nkonkoni camp only has 3 of the big 5, but lots of general game, so it’s always an awesome stop over for us and gets that bush feel started.

In previous years we have stayed in safari tents, but in April we got to stay in a chalet for the first time and Chan made sure that the chalet trend continued when she booked.

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This unit had its own little walkway down to a hide, so I did some exploring just before dark, but the waterhole was very quiet and junior, Albert, was afraid as it was getting dark, so it was time to start the fire and have a dop.

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The private little boma attached to each unit is super cool and I ended up making fires all over the place as usual, which caused the usual comments “You put too much wood on, you are smoking us out, you are going to get us kicked out”, which as per the norm results in more wood getting added and a pelican face starts to grow.

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Eventually things cooled enough to allow the braai to start and tonight a mixed grill and funky sausages were on the menu.

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To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:42 pm

August 4th Jozini Dam to Skukuza

After a cold 6am outside shower we were off to the Swazi border, which is only 30km away. After our April fiasco, we were very nervous, but bar a few monster trucks, we were soon through the gate and at the office. Much to our surprise, 15 minutes later, and the first border was done and dusted and we were on our way.

We arrived at Crocodile Bridge gate just before 11:30am after some “interesting” shopping in Komatipoort.

The sighting board at indicated that there had been some action on the S28, so that was the chosen route.

We always have a R50 bet what we will see first and impala are banned, but this time there was no winner, much to the kid’s horror, as nobody had chosen a giraffe.

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Our second sighting caused uproar in the car as it was the usual chance taking KNP gang. Bushpiggy thinks that she’s a KNP official and always takes photos of those that break the rules.

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After a few km of the S28 I realized that it had been a mistake. The area had been burnt and it looked like the aftermath of a war zone, but we did find a few signs of life.

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The road to Nthandanyathi hide was closed for some reason, so we were now confused and stopped as the plan had to change.

Now the S28 had been long and quiet up to this point and Bushpiggy had got bored and was repeatedly kicking the back of my chair, so the blood pressure was already hitting the ceiling and then some foreign tourists pulled up next to us “What you see”, I replied “BUSH”, which resulted in an elbow from the Cow and confused looks from the strangers “We thought that you see something”, “NO”, another elbow, so I smiled and said “The road to the hide is closed so we are going to turn around and head to Duke’s waterhole”, “We drive to hide”, “NO, the road is closed”, more confused looks, so we said cheers and continued.

A few hundred meters back down the road I thought that I had spotted something, so stopped. A few seconds later the “tourists” were back “What you see”, “BUSH”, and another elbow followed, so I explained that the road had recently been burnt and was very quiet and it would probably be best to head for the tar or water, more confused looks, “We go hide”. All that I could do was smile and say “You go hide”, waved goodbye and continued.

Dukes and the rest of the dirt was quiet and the little no name “dam” at the top end of the S130 was dry, so I was thankful to be back on the tar and heading towards the Sabie River.

Next up was a mobile tank in the road.

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Then the first and second of our big 5

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The rocks in the Lubyelubye area have often produced leopard and lion for us in the past, but today it was what I think is a Hawk eagle.

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Then the next tank decided to cross the road. It was now after 1pm and I was amazed to have found our 2nd guy cruising along the main road in the middle of the day. I wonder what he would do to a car if he got a fright and the car was between himself and the water.

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N’watimhiri produced a couple of kudu and a few giraffe. These guys seemed to hang out in this area for most of our trip.

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We took a short 3km trip up the S21 to another no name dam, which has produced results for us before in the middle of the day, but it was also dry, so we turned and headed back for the tar. Last year August both little no name dams that I have mentioned were full of water.

Next up, just past the S79 causeway we found our first KNP mini road block, 5 cars stopped. It was the first lions of the trip. We managed to count 3 males and 4 females, but they were a fair distance off, so after a few pics we moved on to Skukuza for book in.

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To be continued – The evening drive

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:43 pm

August 4th continued

Our book in went smoothly and we were off to our unit, the GW2, which is one that we have never stayed in before. We checked out Kamadejo’s unit, the Elsie Clarke cottage, on the way past, but they weren’t home, so it was off to unpack.

The GW2 is a strange unit and has a back passage connecting both rooms to a separate shower, toilet and bathroom. The kitchen and lounge of the GW2 are also accessed from outside the unit, which for me, with the rats wasn’t ideal. The “lounge” ended up being a waste of space. (If you know the FU5 units at LS, the GW2 is the same, but with a shared bathroom).

It has a view of the river, but due to thick bush and trees, it’s not as good as the GC4V’s, but you are in the corner of the camp, so you have a duel fence line, which is a bonus, but I found it a little close to the staff village though and noise pollution filtered through, especially on the Friday night.

The kids were nagging to meet Kamadejo’s youngest, so after unpacking I poured myself a G&T and took Hawkeyes and Bushpiggy for a stroll down to Kamadejo’s unit to check if she was in, but still missing, so I returned for another G&T, which resulted in me forgetting about the time and before I realized it was after 4pm, so the protesting rats were bundled into the car and it was off to Nkuhlu.

First up was a female bushbuck and her lightie and just after the H12 bridge a couple of ellies next to the road which gave the Cow her first pressure sighting.

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We arrived at Nkuhlu after 5pm and the 1 thing that I hate doing on an evening drive is having to rush back to camp, so I was out the car quickly and started chasing the rats to the loo, but there was nobody else there, so the rats all put the brakes on, because the boon clan had already moved in for the night.

Eventually after 5 minutes of playing security guard we were all back in the car, but by now my hair was standing up and the Cow’s pelican was starting to grow again.

As we turned onto the tar from Nkuhlu the Cow shouted “STOP” impala suddenly started barking all over the place, so I slowed and followed the direction of their stare.

Suddenly, there she was and I shouted “Leopard”
She was moving at pace through the bush, which caused me to pop the clutch in the excitement and all the impala ran into the road barking their heads off.

It took a few seconds to move forward and below is what waited for us about 10m from the road.

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I will post a video insert later that has had some major editing, but I can’t even explain what was happening in our car over the next few seconds as all 5 of us were over “excited”.

She then started to drag the impala towards us and I thought that she was going to drag it across the road in front of us, but she stopped, looked at us, and changed her mind.

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It’s about then that we heard a second leopard calling, which caused greater excitement in the car and more video editing. I think that you will hear the second leopard once in the beginning of the edited insert, but this caused the first leopard to rapidly drag the impala up the tree. The power of this animal is amazing to witness

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The leopard settled in and started to look in the direction of where we heard the 2nd leopard, which had called/growled a few more times, but we were still unable to see it.

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About a minute later I realized that our car was dead quiet, which is unusual, so I looked around to the rats in the back seat. They all had eyes like saucers and I think that the reality of what they were witnessing was starting to sink in. The fact that blood was rapidly dripping out of the tree and the pic below probably wasn’t helping.

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We were still the only car at the sighting, so I took the time to sit back and absorb the scene. It’s then that I realized that we were probably about 50m from the turn in at Nkuhlu, so the leopard could have been watching us while I was chasing kids to the loo in the car park.

I was jolted out of my daze by Hawkeyes shouting “hyena, hyena” and at about the same time the first of 2 OSV’s arrived. After that, we never heard the second leopard again.

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A few seconds later more arrived shrieking their heads off.

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The attention from the hyenas and the additional traffic was making the leopard rather uneasy

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The time on the Garmin was starting to get my attention and we would have to leave in 5 minutes in order to make it back to camp, which added to the tension as things were getting more exciting by the minute, but when the Garmin showed 1 minute spare, I took a last pic and headed back to Skukuza.

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To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:44 pm

August 4th continued

Check out the tree label halfway up the tree in the short video clip below and look for it 50m north of Nkuhlu next time you are in that area, it’s about 10m off the road.



I don’t even remember looking for game on the way back to camp and just switched off to everything and absorbed what we had just seen, but the rest of the car was alive with chatter all the way back.

As we went past Kamadejo’s unit the rats spotted a car next to it and the choir started “Can we go, please, please”. I ignored them, stopped outside our unit, jumped out and headed towards the unit followed by the Cow and Hawkeyes, but Bushpiggy and Albert were rather slow and edgy, so I asked “What’s the problem now”, Bushpiggy replied “Can leopard get into the camp” and Albert still had big eyes.

I now realized that what they had just witnessed obviously was having a major effect.
I was halfway through convincing them that they were safe in the camp when Hawkeyes shouted “Leopard can get into the camps easily, they climb trees and jump in, it’s on the internet”. This caused bigger eyes and a sprint to our unit, much to the delight of Hawkeyes.

Each time Bushpiggy lost the plot for the rest of our holiday I shouted “Watch out for the leopard” and Bushpiggy suddenly kept quiet and started to behave. Albert never recovered and still talks about it, but now says “It was awesome”.

I started the fire, poured a G&T and suggested a mite visit, so 2 minutes later I was off down the road with the clan huddled close still looking for leopard.

Kamadejo was on the veranda of their unit with her oldest daughter going through pics and she welcomed us immediately, “Bushcraft, come and see pics”.

Kamadejo’s SO joined us and my clan latched onto their youngest and despite the language barrier seemed to hit it off big time.

We looked at pics, talked about KNP, diving, fishing, SA, Germany, beer, etc, etc. I ran out of G&T and begged a Black Label, much to the Cow’s horror and embarrassment.

It ended up an awesome meet and I wish that we could have had a few more Labels, but my fire was dying and the kids were getting tired, so we called it a night and headed back for our dodgy Komatipoort meat braai.

Kamadejo, you and your SO are an awesome couple and you have a great family. Next time, the Labels are on me.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:45 pm

August 5th Skukuza

The damn boons sleep on the old railway bridge which starts next to the GW2 unit and they started tuning at 4am, so by 5am I had lost my sense of humour and was up and about, but when I put my nose outside and cruised to the kitchen, I lost my sense of humour even more, as it was freezing.

I have only ever been in KNP once before when it was 0 degrees and it was 0 degrees now. We live 1km from the beach in KZN, so this wasn’t the norm for us and the SO was in complete shock. I have never put tracksuit pants on in KNP in my life and this morning I put them on, but I still refused to wear shoes, maybe because I never take any to KNP ever.

Our morning drive started with the windows up and the heaters on, which is also a first for us.

The plan was to head down to the leopard kill from the previous evening and then head up to Mlondozi for breakfast. Things were very quiet until just before the kill sight where we found a few hyenas still wandering around.

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The kill was much lower in the tree and certainly didn’t do much for my stomach that early in the morning. The rats were disgusted and horrified, but they can’t be ostriches forever, so we didn’t stop them taking in the scene.

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The Lubyelubye area produced a collared lioness that must have had cubs, because we could hear calling, but couldn’t see any juniors. I have played back our video to double check and there’s definitely 1 cub calling.

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Sunset dam produced all the usual locals and a few more in trees then we had seen before.

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We stopped at Lower Sabie for a loo break and to check out the sighting board, which indicated more lions a few km down the H4-2, so we decided to go and check it out and then return to the H10 Bridge.

They were still sitting in the sun when we arrived, but were a long way off.

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I hate lion sightings like this, because all the rats in the back start shouting “where, where” and if one can’t see them then the squabbling starts and most times the one that can’t see them starts howling, so I had to sit there until each rat found them in the binoculars.

Peace returned and I turned around and headed back for the H10 Bridge.

The H10 Bridge always produces a gang of locals.

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The rats were starting to moan for breakfast, so we continued on.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:47 pm

August 5th continued

Halfway between the H10 Bridge and Mlondozi we found a car on the side of the road and the driver was waving and shouting “luiperd in die boom” Now my Afrikaans isn’t that good and I have been caught looking for a leopard instead of a “chasing leopard or jagluiperd” before.
These definitely weren’t leopards in the tree and the waver seemed shocked and confused when I said that they were cheetah. He proceeded to mumble something to his SO and then ignored me.

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These guys looked like teenagers and they were having a party playing king of the castle. The one chap was definitely the best climber and he kept pushing the other chap out of the tree.

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This went on for about 15 minutes and then a 3rd and a 4th head popped up out of the grass and the 2 on the ground started chasing each other around the tree.

5 minutes later the 2 in the tree came down and all 4 disappeared in the long grass, but every minute or so you could see movement in the grass at the base of the tree.
The excitement was over and the rats were starting to get restless, which was causing my blood pressure to rise again, so I said “Let’s go and cook breakfast”, which brought cheers from the back seat, but the Cow looked at me and said “Are you mad, we will wait”. I said “What for, they will sleep in the grass all day”, “NO, we will wait”

20 minutes later the rats had got louder in the back, my hair was standing up and just as the cylinder head was about to explode the mother of the naughty teenagers, followed by one of the teenagers, stood up and then proceeded to walk straight towards us.

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The Cow started “You see, you see, you need to thank me”. The excitement was back on, so I ignored the Cow and positioned the car to create a gap for them to cross between us and other cars that had arrived.

Mom was the first to cross the road.

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Then 3 of the teenagers followed, but they were nervous and crossed at pace.

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The 4th teenager decided on a casual stroll and then sat down in the road to pose for photos. He only decided to move off when he realized that the rest of his family were moving deeper into the grass.

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The usual gang was cruising the banks of Mlondozi dam having a chow

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The Cow started breakfast and as you can see by the way that she was dressed it was still freezing and the wind was howling, which made things even worse. For all those that have visited Mlondozi in the wind and tried to cook a skottel breakfast will know that it’s more than frustrating.

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It didn’t take long for the clan of beggars to arrive and it included me just out of the picture

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The rats created their own audience for breakfast and I’m sure it may have pissed a few of the locals looking for peace off, but they are just kids and all kids need to also enjoy KNP as long as they are respectful of the experience that others are looking for. There’s nothing worse than a shrieking kid at Mlondozi and as long as ours are quiet and respectful, I personally don’t see a problem.

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To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:48 pm

August 5th continued

We left Mlondozi just before 11am and the roads were very quiet until just before the H10 Bridge over the Sabie River. This guy was fairly large and close to the road, but was very relaxed.

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Sitting on the side of the H10 Bridge we found this chap with his arm in the air and we all had a laugh as he looked like one of RP’s scholars asking a question.

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Our youngest, Albert, is a farting machine and when she drops one we all fight for a window, so when she suddenly said “He dropped one”, I was about to put my nose out of the window, but then realized that she was talking about the boon, which cracked us all up

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Next up was a fish eagle that did decide to drop one as I took the pic

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The rest of the drive back to Skukuza produced kudu, bushbuck, boons, giraffe, etc and ellies in the Sabie river, which is almost a given at midday.

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It had been a long morning in the car and by the time that we got back to camp it felt as if I had a chirpy parrot glued to my ear as the noise from the back seat was even louder, so I decided to have a G&T, relax on a chair and absorb the surroundings. The rats made up their own games in front of our unit and the Cow went of a bird mission around camp.

I won’t even try and mention what birds they are, as bird books confuse me, because there are 10 of each model that look the same to me.

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Our afternoon drive started later than usual, so it was a short drive to the H12 Bridge and back.

Our first sighting, besides the usual, was a Nyala cruising along the side of the road

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Then a hyena sniffing around the road edge

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Just before the H12 Bridge the lion pride was out and about again, but still far off and for some reason, which we were going to discover; the traffic had increased and after a few pics we decided to head back to camp for a braai.

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When we arrived back in camp at about 5:45pm the queue coming out of Skukuza reception was almost on the road, but I thought it’s Friday night, so maybe this is the weekend crowd arriving, so we drove carefully through the gang and headed for our unit.

Supernova and clan were arriving tomorrow, so the rats were excited, as their cousins were on the way; therefore it was early to bed for them.

The Cow and I sat and watched a few hyenas sneaking around the camp fence for another hour and then also crashed.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:53 pm

August 6th Skukuza to Satara

Supernova and gang were entering the park through Paul Kruger gate at about 12:30pm, so our plan was to do a short morning drive and then head back to Skukuza deli for breakfast (and some Tri-nations rugby) and then head out towards Paul Kruger gate and wait.

We ended up second in the queue on the way down to Nkuhlu and lost the first “just married” car in the distance, but about 5km out from Skukuza we spotted the “just married” car stopped on one of the little inlets and the new wife was hanging out the car with her camera, so we stopped and looked around.

Now it’s instinctive to look beyond the grass next to the car, but suddenly the Cow said “s@#$”, lions next to the car. The “just married” had stopped a safe distance past the lions, but we, by mistake, had stopped 1m from them.

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Hawkeyes also hadn’t seen them before we stopped and was now trying to hide in the foot well, as her window was wide open.

The 2 brothers, although frequently checking us out, seemed rather relaxed, so I switched the car off and we sat quietly with them.

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The crowd behind us was starting to build and the brothers were starting to get edgy, so after confirmation that they were still mates they got up and started to cruise around the cars.

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The bigger of the 2 started to do some territory marking along the side of the road, but his brother ducked off into the bush.

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After a few minutes the big brother realized that his brother was missing and started howling his head off in the road.

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After about a minute the smaller brother arrived from his bush excursion and the 2 decided to continue on down the road.

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They seemed to have a pee tag team going and as one guy did his thing the other followed it up. This continued for about another 10 minutes.

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A few minutes later the traffic coming up from the Lower Sabie area arrived and it was strange, as all seemed to be in a rush as they paused to look at the lions for a few seconds, and then continued on. The Cow and I couldn’t figure it out.

The traffic seemed to steadily increase, so the lions chose to duck into the bush and disappeared. We weren’t even halfway to Nkuhlu by this stage and the rats were indicating that a loo stop would be a good idea. When Albert starts to proudly announce “It was me”, I know it’s time to find a loo, besides I didn’t feel like hanging her butt out the window for a number 2 with all this traffic around, so we turned and followed the traffic to Skukuza.

The congestion increased as we got closer to the entrance of Skukuza and the toilets at the reception had a queue coming out of the door, so I was major stressed.

I phoned Supernova while the Cow stood in the queue with the rats and Supernova said that they were probably going to arrive at about 12pm, so we still had a long time to kill.

We had a small conference and decided to go and see if we could find the hyena den close to transport dam that Kamadejo told us about.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:55 pm

August 6th continued

The H3 was quiet, but a just before the transport dam turn off on the H1-1 we found this guy having a look around

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As we entered the dirt the SO shouted “STOP, there’s something looking out of the ant hill”. I reversed frantically expecting a pangolin or better and then “Ah, they are so cute”. Mumbling I continued

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We found the hyena den and switched the car off to wait, but after 20 minutes the parrots in the back seat seemed to be glued to my ear again, so we continued on to the dam and planned to stop again on the way back up.

Transport dam for some seems to be deemed a picnic spot and today was no exception, which got official Bushpiggy snapping away with her camera. The toppie digging in his boot didn’t seem to mind the attention, but the entire situation irritated me so we continued on down the little side road that passes next to the dam wall where we found a large herd of waterbuck.

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We spent another 10 minutes at the hyena den, but there was still no movement, so we decided to return to Skukuza for breakfast via the S65.

The S65 was relatively quiet, but we did find a few boons and ellies.

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As we hit the H11 we spotted a chap in the road and he was telling us to stop, so confused we stopped. Suddenly a guy come running up the dirt road next to us and then many more.

I was now badly confused and said “Have these people gone mad”.

I then remembered MM’s Skukuza marathon from her TR last year and I was now stuck in the middle of it. This explained the rush that some showed at the lion sighting earlier and the chaos at Skukuza.

This may be some people’s scene, but my pelican was out and we had to follow the runners slowly down the road. After 10 minutes, I resigned to the fact that we would have a late breakfast and tried to switch off, but the rats got in on the race and started cheering “Who’s winning, he’s in front”.

Eventually after 30 minutes we were out of the chaos and headed for breakfast.

The new Deli menu caused confusion, but eventually we had our chow and peace returned.

Half an hour later the deli area started getting majorly packed, as I think that the race was now over and many spectators were arriving for breakfast, so we ducked off to check the rugby score and then took a walk down the Skukuza promenade.

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I checked on Supernovas progress and they were about an hour out, so we decided to take a slow drive out towards Paul Kruger gate.

I was amazed as the rubbish, etc from the race was already gone and there was very little sign that it had even taken place.

All the activity had probably chased the animals, but we did find this junior having some milk.

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To be continued

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