Brown's in Kruger August 2011 *

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:57 pm

August 6th continued

We had a small family conference at Kruger gate and checked out Supernova and Melly’s awesome new car.

Supernova had brought his old 2 times converter for me to loan, so I was stoked as my old “mini zoom Panasonic” SLR couldn’t get that close in the bush.

It was after lunch and we still had to get to Satara, so Supernova gave me the walkie talkie for our car and we were off.

Our first stop was at a leopard kill from the previous day that I forgot to mention. This was just before the H12 Bridge and we had found it on our evening drive, but the leopard had already moved off.

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Next up was the first wild cow of the trip for Supernova and clan.

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The rest of the way to Tshokwane was relatively quiet and it was getting even later, so we had a quick pitstop and continued on.

About 5km past Tshokwane we came across a gang of cars on the side of the road, in the road and all over the place. It was lions, but they were snoozing in the grass a long way off, so I don’t know what all the fuss was about. We took a few pics and continued on.

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Mazithi Dam produced all the usual locals, hippo, crocs, impala, zebra, kudu, etc, etc.

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Just before the S86 detour a couple of elephant showed themselves.

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The rest of the way to Satara was very quiet, but to be expected at around 2pm.

We arrived at Satara just after 3pm, so the 2pm booking crowd had moved on and it was a painless book in. 5 minutes later we were unpacking and I was halfway through a G&T in no time.

It had been a long day in the car for everybody, so we planned a short evening drive down the H7 to the S12 turn off and back again.

It was after 4:30pm when we finally got on the road to Nsemani Dam.

Supernova found out from someone on the dam wall that there were lions sleeping down the little dead end dirt road to the west of the dam, so off we went to check it out.

If I had known what waited for us down the dirt road I would have given it a miss as it has to rate in my top 5 road KNP blocks. People and lion sightings are similar IMO to flies and **** and curiosity always gets the better of you, but before you know it you still can’t see squat and you are parked in and surrounded by people who also can’t see squat.

Supernova managed to get into a position where they could get a visual, but by now my kettle was boiling and the Cow was continually saying “relax, relax”, which normally has the opposite effect and the kettle boils faster. Eventually I managed to get through and a partial visual, but I had a car in front of me trying to reverse, a car behind me trying to move forward, a car next to me trying to push past and that’s about when the kettle started to whistle, so I started my normal waving of hands until a gap opened up and we were out of there.

We pulled off on the side of the road away from the gang and waited on Supernova to make his way out of the rugby scrum.

Supernova managed a pic of what caused all the chaos.

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We continued on down the H7 for 20 minutes, but we entered a newly burnt area and there seemed to be zero life, so we turned and headed back towards Nsemani Dam.

The lionesses had moved off in the direction of the dam and so had most of the crowd; therefore we ventured back down the little dirt road to see why a few vehicles were still hanging around.

The main man of the pride had moved in just before dark.

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He was only around for a few minutes and then got up to follow his girls.

It looked as if he was going to pop up at the water’s edge and time was ticking, so we headed back towards the dam wall, which produced a visual of a rhino and buffalo drinking.

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The rhino started to cruise off in the direction of the dirt, so I jumped on the walkie talkie and informed Supernova that we were going to duck back up the dirt to intercept him.

Halfway up the dirt the rhino came out the bush and got a bigger fright then we did and took off in the other direction, but at the same time the walkie talkie went “lion at the dam”, so we did a rapid turn and headed back.

The girls had come out to observe the dam’s visitors.

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It was almost dark and the Garmin was flashing so we made tracks back to camp for a beer and braai.

Our units weren’t next to each, but ours had the best braai stand, so I got the fire going and Supernova and clan pulled in to our unit.

After eating Melly took their rats to bed and the Cow chased ours off, but by that stage Supernova and I may have had a few too many dops and were a little pickled, so Supernova said “Cheers” and ducked off in the direction of his unit. The Cow made sure that he was walking in the correct direction and said “I’m going to bath, don’t fall asleep out here a usual”

I got a blanket, poured one last dop, switched off all the lights and curled up on the veranda.

I was about to dose off when a movement caught my eye. I looked at the dop, looked back at the moving object, blinked, focused, it was still there and then the penny dropped. It was an AWC sniffing around our braai.

I charged into the bathroom shouting “AWC, AWC”, “Have you gone mad, get out, it’s cold with the door open”, “There’s an African Wild Cat at the braai, move your ass”

The bright bathroom lights had affected my night eyes and I nearly ran over the table on the way back outside and missed the open sliding door.

To my surprise the Cow arrived wrapped in a towel with her small pink toilet torch a few seconds later. The AWC got the fright of its life when it spotted the Cow and when she put the torch on it took off into the bush, which resulted in a pelican from me as I was lining it up with the camera, so we ended up sitting there for another 30 minutes waiting for its return, but she never came back.

The Cow decided to finish her bath and then come back to join me, but I was nearly asleep again, so got a greasing. Suddenly she said “There’s something moving in the bush! What’s that noise”, I didn’t hear anything, but decided to play along “It’s there”, so out came the pink torch and I was biting my lip.

Suddenly I heard it and the Cow shouted “There’s a lion roaring, is it in the camp!!!” Now, I was a few down by that stage and couldn’t trust my senses, so didn’t know what to suggest, so said “Is it a badger in the bush”, but was also majorly confused.

The noise seemed to get louder and then stop, but 10 seconds later start again, so my confusion and the Cow’s paranoia increased. Eventually we gave up and went to bed.

The next morning answered our confusion.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:58 pm

August 7th Satara to Skukuza

The Cow and I were up in the dark and had our coffee on the veranda before waking the rats, which seems to have become our ritual. Suddenly the Cow jumped up “The lion is back again”.
My senses were feeling better this morning, so I walked closer to investigate the noise and the roaring started again.

We both realized at about the same time that it was our neighbour and packed up laughing.
How can anyone snore that loud? When I realized that it was our neighbour my excited confusion turned to irritation and proceeded to shine my high powered torch into his chalet, which resulted in another greasing from the Cow, but at least our neighbour shut up and I could enjoy my coffee in peace.

The plan this morning was to head back down the H7 to Orpen, have a pitstop and then duck back to Satara for breakfast.

Supernova and I have read so much about the H7 being a “must do” road, but over the years we haven’t had much luck on it, especially the middle section and today was no exception.

All we spotted to Orpen and back were a few giraffe, a couple of ellies and an ostrich

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We also underestimated the time it would take, so only arrived back at Satara after 9am, and so had to cook a frantic breakfast to be out of our units by 10am.

We had just driven all the way up from Skukuza yesterday, but now had to drive all the way back down, so the enthusiasm wasn’t at an all time high. I find that with our large party, moving camps can be a mission, but if it’s the only accommodation you can get, you have to bite the bullet.

We booked out of our unit just in time and headed on our long midday haul back down to Skukuza.

We were just outside Satara when Hawkeyes squealed “Stop, Secretary bird” and then spent the next 10 minutes telling the other 2 rats that the sighting was hers. Fortunately she stopped blowing her own trumpet just before the normal Bushpiggy punch.

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The other 2 were now alert and had to beat Hawkeyes, so although the Cow and I often spotted general game long before they did, we just kept quiet until one of them shouted “Stop”.

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A few km after the S126 turnoff we spotted a couple of cars on the side of the road and as we approached we spotted a male lion walking through the bush. It was difficult to snap a pic of him while he was moving, but Supernova managed a pic as he stopped and it’s about then that we realized that he had stopped at his girls who were lying in the grass.

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We tried to get a better visual, but as it often happens, to me anyway, I normally stuff it up and should have stayed where we were, which normally results in the Cow and I having a speech, but eventually they were kind enough to pop their heads up for a quick pic.

Play the game “How many are in the pic”

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Just before the little S86 loop we found a lone elephant and a few hundred meters into the loop a Saddle Billed Stork cruising along the river bed.

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A few km before Tshokwane we spotted this guy in a tree and the Cow decided to test the 2x converter that Supernova had loaned us and to my surprise got a fairly good pic.

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The rest of the drive to Skukuza was very quiet and only the odd impala showed up, so by the time we reached our units everyone was ready to just put their feet up and relax.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 8:59 pm

August 7th continued

It had been a long drive down from Satara for the rats, so for our evening drive we decided to stop at the sighting board on the way out and pick a short route, but there wasn’t much on the board, so we decided to drive towards Lower Sabie for half an hour and then turn around and head back to camp.

Our first “interesting” sighting was a herd of elephant on “our” little dirt road loop a few km from Skukuza, but again no leopard on our proven loop.

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Next up was the horn bill clan and the female had rings on her leg, which we found interesting, but found many more on the trip and all females had the rings on their legs. We later found out that they are currently endangered.

The rats had also discussed it in the back seat and decided that it was to show how many husbands they had, which completely cracked me up.

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All the usual clan made an appearance, including the boon army on the way back to camp.

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The Garmin indicated that at our current pace we would make it back to camp with 5 minutes to spare and it was nearly dark, so we just ambled along chatting, but about 200m before the turn off up to Skukuza from the H4-1 “something” stuck it’s head out of the bush about 100m in front of us and ran across the road. Supernova and I spotted “it” at the same time and roared off after “it” with cameras flashing.

All I succeeded in doing was blinding myself with the flash, but Supernova got some pics of the bush area that “it” had run into. I was now highly frustrated as “it” was heading down to the little dirt road loop adjacent us, but we had no time to go and intercept “it”, so with pelican faces we returned to camp.

Melly and I insisted that it was a small leopard, but Supernova insists that it was a civet. We looked through all Supernovas’ bush pics and no evidence, so “it” remains a mystery.

We eventually lost interest in the debate, so Supernova and I started our traditional castle of wood mixed with briquettes and the rats joined us around the fire while the Cow and Melly got busy with the kitchen work.

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The rats got bored and moved their game inside to leave Supernova and I in peace at the fire when suddenly I heard something on the grass coming towards us and then it bailed into the tree next to us. It took me a few seconds to get the word out, “Bushbaby!!”

Supernova ran off to get his camera, which has a decent flash and the alarm went off inside, so the rats and the Cow came running.

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The commotion gave the junior in the tree a fright, so he bailed out of the tree onto the roof of our unit and sat perched at the apex looking at us.

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He then decided that it would be best if he headed for the bush, so he took off down the side of the unit and bailed. Unfortunately he used my car as a spring board for his next jump, which got me excited.

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The excitement was over as quickly as it had begun, so Supernova and I started our traditional lamb chop braai.

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Later the kids went off to bed and I put some more wood on our fire to get it going again for the quiet time, but to my horror a gang arrived a few units down from us and started chatting and chirping at the top of their voices, so Supernova and Melly went to bed and the Cow went to bath.

This crowd then decided to start their fire for a braai, but it was nearly 10pm, so “my” peaceful time was getting destroyed and the pelican was well and truly out, so I gave up on the idea of sitting by our fire and went to get a blanket to curl up with on the veranda of our unit, poured a stiff dop and hoped that the idiots would go to bed eventually.

Suddenly I woke up with something rattling me, it was the Cow, “It’s nearly 12pm, what the hell are you doing”, I said “I don’t know”, “Get inside before the neighbours see you, you are embarrassing us!!!”

I then realized what had happened. I fell asleep scowling at the neighbours and now they had been looking at me wrapped in a blanket snoring my head off, so I scuttled inside and to bed, with the Cow behind me continuing with the greasing.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 9:01 pm

August 8th Skukuza

Supernova and Melly hadn’t been down to Lower Sabie yet, so the plan this morning was to head down that way, spend some time at Sunset Dam and return to Skukuza for breakfast.

We left camp this morning a little later than usual, but soon caught up to the early birds as they were all stopped on the side of the road.

I looked around confused and then there he was, a male lion (who ended up getting the nickname “Perm” from the rats), cruising along in the bush, but a fair distance away.

I knew that he was “Perm” who we had seen 2 days ago; therefore the brother, “Black Eye”, couldn’t be far way, so Supernova and I over took the crowd and continued on alone.

About 1km later, with nobody else around, “Black Eye” was walking towards us down the middle of the road. I was in front and spotted him a long way off coming towards us, so started flapping with the walkie talkie, but eventually got the words out.

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We both turned around to face the direction he was walking and waited for him to come by so that we could follow him rather than reversing. As he got next to us he decided that it was time to do some marking of his territory.

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I decided to sneak in a little closer as he had stopped, so I was hoping to get a better pic, but he turned suddenly to give us the hairy eyeball and all the windows were down, so I nearly popped the clutch to get out of there.

His stare, which was only a few seconds, felt like a minute and then he calmly walked on, which caused all in my cab to breathe again and now I was getting the hairy eyeball from the Cow.

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We cruised up next to him and followed slowly at his pace and just enjoyed doing a tour with him next to us. I was amazed how relaxed he was and he never paid any attention to us, even though the back of my car was chaotic with the rats all fighting for the window seat.

The traffic from the Skukuza started to filter down towards us and I always crack up at these types of sightings watching others as they arrive on the scene. The windows go up, down, up, the faces change from shock, to excitement, to panic and then the car gets put into reverse and they nearly flatten the person behind them, which most times ends in frustrated faces as they become boxed in.

The light was starting to improve now and it was amazing to watch the “smoke” from his mouth each time he breathed out.

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He continued up the road until the spot where his brother had ducked off into the bush, paused looked around and then followed the same path into the bush.

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We turned and headed on towards Lower Sabie.

On the way down we found all of the usual clan and the one thing that stood out for me was the number of giraffe in the area, as I have never seen so many in this part of the park before. I think that Luckycharm was keeping count, but I can’t remember the exact number, so maybe Supernova can give us that count.

Sunset Dam is always worth a few pics and it’s a place to switch the car off, relax and watch.

The usual clan is always around to welcome you

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The one particular bird was giving us all a laugh as it was standing on a hippo relaxing and going for a ride.

Eventually the hippo lost it and dived under, but the stupid bird only realized what was happening too late and went for a water-ski

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There was also some other strange bird cruising along the water’s edge and one that I know, a Green Backed Heron, who was catching a suntan.

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We all needed a pitstop by now, so it was off to Lower Sabie.

To be continued (Not for sensitive readers X rated)

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 9:02 pm

August 8th Skukuza continued

After a half an hour break at Lower Sabie we started to head back and just past Sunset Dam I spotted a yellow ribbon, it was Bundi.

We had a quick chat in the middle of the road, shared a few sightings and stories. Bundi had an awesome sighting down at Croc Bridge, but I won’t spoil it just in case he does a TR. Eventually cars started arriving, so we said cheers and continued on.

Just before the H12 Bridge we came across the boon army cruising along the road again.

Now what happened next resulted in chaos in my car.

As we pulled up next to the boon gang a large male grabbed a female next to our car and she started shrieking her head off, which got my clan in the back seat highly excited and Bushpiggy started snapping away with her no name brand camera.

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I quickly realized what was about to happen so tried to pull off, but a car stopped in front of me, so I had to stop again.

Then Bushpiggy started “Daddy Daddy, he’s riding on her back” and then Albert started “Daddy he’s bullying her like all those daddy lions do to the girls, make him stop” and Hawkeyes went bright red and tried to hide her face. I sat with my mouth open and didn’t know what to say.

Bushpiggy was extremely proud of her pic below and kept reviewing it on her camera and passing it around the car. She finally said “He is a bully, see, he’s even smiling while riding on her back”

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I looked at the Cow and said “They are girls, this is your problem” and continued on.

Next up was a rhino having a sleep in the thick bush. It was very difficult to get a pic of him through the bush, so I farted around trying to get through the branches and Supernova continued on past me.

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Suddenly the walkie talkie went “lions, lions”. Running down the centre of the road towards Supernova’s car was a pride of females and they were on a mission.

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At one stage I’m sure Supernova thought that the lead female was going to jump into his car.

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Without warning they just ducked off into the bush next to Supernova’s car, so we drove up and down watching the river bed and spotted them a few times between the road and the river bed, but then they lay down and went to sleep in the grass, so we lost sight of them.

The crowd had started to grow, so instead of waiting for them to show themselves again, we decided to continue on.

About 3km down the road we had second thoughts and decided to turn around and go back for one more look. 1km later I shouted “LION”, as this guy came out the bush and walked towards us. (The rats named this guy “Fluffy”)

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He was on a real mission and was going up the road and then down the road again and it soon became obvious that he was looking for his girls. He kept sniffing the ground and seemed really stressed out.

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The crowd quickly grew and it was absolute chaos as Fluffy changed direction every 30 seconds and cars were reversing and then charging off after him. Some at the sighting seemed to have really bad eye sight or were just clueless, because they seemed to be half asleep and had no idea where to go, so the kettle started to boil again.

I had to get out of the crowd and I knew that he would eventually pick up the scent of his girls, so we drove on about 100m and waited for him. 5 minutes later he came strolling up next to us with half of Skukuza behind him.

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The oncoming traffic started to box us and Fluffy in, so the kettle switched back on and it was about to blow when Fluffy decided that he also had enough and ducked off into the river bed.

We stopped and let the frantic crowd continue on.

It was nearly lunch time by now; therefore we were rather late for breakfast and the rats were starting to howl for a chow, so we turned and headed back to camp.

I had to stop for the Cow to test the 2x converter again on her favourite bird just outside camp. I have to admit that she is learning.

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It had been a very long morning so we decided to relax in camp for most of the afternoon and then do the Marula loop after 4:30pm.

The H1-2 side of the loop was very quiet and only a few of the usual suspects showed up. The first sighting of note was a herd of ellies just after the H12 Bridge and one little one was trying to have a dop.

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We had found out in camp about a leopard den just up the road from the H12 Bridge close to the road next to the large rock in the riverbed and decided to stake it out. It was major frustrating for us as every now and then one could hear the cubs, but they never showed themselves and it makes it even worse when others at the den show you pics of what you just missed. After 15 minutes the rats in both our cars were going crazy and the time was ticking, so we had to leave and head back to camp.

The only other sighting of interest on the way back to camp was a herd of buffalo having a drink in the river bed.

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Our noisy neighbours had moved on, so we had a peaceful evening and I fell asleep on the veranda again, but fortunately woke up before anyone noticed.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 9:03 pm

August 9th Skukuza to Satara

The plan this morning was to go and check out the leopard den to see if there was any movement and then come back to camp for an early breakfast and then head up to Satara after 10am.

Our day started normally, “Perm” and “Black Eye” were out on patrol again

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I will bore you with one more pic of “Black Eye”

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We did our normal traffic dodging throughout the sighting and my kettle came back on, because some idiot kept roaring off ahead of the lions and then parking sideways across the road facing them, so that his Cow could get a better face on pic, but this caused us all to stop start each time.

This caused my Cow to start chirping, which generally sets me off also, but fortunately before things turned ugly “Perm” and “Black Eye” moved off into the bush.

About 1km further, this hyena clan had killed or hijacked something that had been killed and they were running all over the place.

This caused chaos in my car, because I didn’t know whether to follow the ones on the road, or stop and watch the ones in the grass and my indecision set the Cow off “What you doing, they are there, I can’t film if you keep moving, now look, you have stuffed it up”, which obviously sets me off “DO YOU WANT TO DRIVE #$$%”, which normally results in a tense silence, but today Albert decided to chip in “I’m telling Grandpa!”

Thankfully Supernova seemed to have more control and managed a few pics of them in the road.

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Suddenly something got their attention and they seemed nervous and tense, but at the time we couldn’t figure out what was causing this.

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The one then decided to grab a piece and head for cover and the rest of the clan ran shrieking after him.

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We then realized that the leopard den was just around the corner, so decided to hang around there for awhile just in case they made an appearance.

About 5 minutes later we realized what had upset the hyena. “Perm and Black Eye” had come back up to the road and were walking towards us.

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They walked right up to where the leopard den was, left the road and continued on to the big rock behind the den.

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A few minutes later “Black Eye” obviously lost “Perm” and started shouting his head off again.

We now knew that if the leopard cubs and mom were still around they definitely wouldn’t show themselves and time was ticking for us, because we still had to go back to camp and pack up, so we called it and turned to head back.

We stopped back at where the hyena chaos had been earlier and 1 scallywag was still hanging around.

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Halfway back to camp Supernova managed to capture a pic of a Bateleur.

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Then we got between an angry hippo and the water, which always keeps me awake on the clutch just in case he decides to become a steam roller.

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We were back in camp before 9am, so had plenty of time to pack and cook breakfast. We left to head for Satara just after 10am.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 9:05 pm

August 9th Skukuza to Satara continued

We found the usual guys on the way up to Tshokwane, but generally it was fairly quiet. It was close to midday now and Tshokwane was busy, so after a quick pitstop we continued on our way.
A few km after Tshokwane the Cow found a few reasons to test the 2x converter. The fish eagle was eating something that we couldn’t identify, but it didn’t look like a fish.

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Next up was a boon sentry on top of a dead tree, but what had us all laughing was the junior below who was trying to also get to the top.

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The S86 loop is always worth a detour, but today it only produced a large kudu and then a few ellies just as we were exiting the loop.

We have found leopard and leopard cubs before in the baobab tree area, so we were off on another detour, but today only a steenbok.

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We arrived at Satara too early to book in, so it gave us time to stock up big time on wood and Whiskey, because we had Stanley House for the next 3 days and it’s always worth a long evening braai, as we had our own fence line, with a waterhole just to the right of the unit.

The first thing that I noticed at Stanley was the gang of monkeys that seemed to think that the garden and everything in it was theirs and unfortunately this included the cars and everything in the cars, so we ended up doing a joint venture of unpacking and chasing.

The Cow went missing halfway through this process and suddenly came rushing around from the front of the house squawking “I have just seen a kill”, I was about to start running on the spot when she proudly stated “It’s over, but I got pics”. Then the penny dropped, she had been bird hunting in the garden.

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We all got something to drink and went to sit outside. It wasn’t long before our first visitors started arriving for a drink also.

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Hawkeyes and Luckycharm went to have a closer look.

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After 20 minutes the buffalo left and a new visitor arrived, which caused even more excitement and the entire clan and Cows were on the fence line to have a closer look.

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While we were all at the front of the house the monkeys had pulled in at the back and were all over the cars. Tortoise and Albert spotted them through the back window when they went inside and sounded the alarm. Soon all the rats were at the window squawking at the monkeys and I was getting uptight, because they were having a game on our cars.

I devised a plan to sneak around the side of the house and spring a surprise attack, but as I stalked closer the rats spotted me through the window and started cheering, which scared the monkeys into the small tree next to the cars, so, because I was now under the spot light I chose a charge attack and roared in.

I pounced onto the small tree in an attempt to scare the monkeys who were at the top and the rats all cheered, but I wasn’t cheering, as I was now stuck to the tree as it was one of those thorny types and I hadn’t noticed.

The rats continued cheering, but I was trying to maintain a brave face and slowly remove my hands from the tree.

It was a lesson learnt and I still have some of the scars on my hands. Damn monkeys.

The planned afternoon drive was to head down to N’wanetsi, have a pitstop and then return to Nsemani dam just before dark.

The S100 first produced the local waterbuck that seem to always be there and then a lone bull elephant.

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The rest of it was disappointing, but we did find a herd of elephants just before the end and one ellie seemed to take a dislike to Supernovas Discovery and let out a squeal as they went past.

We were behind Supernova and the Cow spotted this and then it started “Don’t you dare!!”, so I waited for them to move further off before taking the gap while the Cow looked the other way.

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We hadn’t calculated the time correctly and decided that if we continued with the planned route we wouldn’t make it back to camp on time, so plans changed and we headed back towards camp.

We got to the H7 intersection at about 5:40pm and decided to continue on down it. A few minutes later we came across this gang

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A major frustrating thing happened next.

An excited driver came towards Supernova and informed him that there was a leopard in a tree just up the S40.

We did the maths and redid it, but we wouldn’t make it, so with long faces returned to camp for a braai.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 9:06 pm

August 10th Satara

The plan this morning was to head down to Nsemani Dam and then up the S40 to Timbavati for breakfast. We were probably chasing the leopard ghost from the day before, but Timbavati is always an awesome breakfast spot.

The way to Nsemani produced nothing and besides the usual suspects at the dam it was also fairly quiet, so we decided to travel a little past the dam before turning around and going up the S40 to Timbavati.

About 1km past the dam we found a massive herd of buffalo. The pic doesn’t do the size of this herd justice.

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Then just around the corner we found these girls tracking the herd.

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We managed to count 4 females, but they were moving fairly quickly through the grass after the buffalo herd and only stopped every now and then, so they were difficult to photograph.

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We turned and tracked them for about another 500m, but the buffalo herd had moved deeper into the bush, so the lions followed and were soon out of sight, so we continued up towards the S40.

The damn S40 is so corrugated and I would hate to drive it if I had false teeth.

We arrived at Ngirivane Dam after a rattling drive and to the disappointment of all it was dry and nothing was happening, so we continued on.

Next up were a couple of giraffe, who seem to always be present on this road.

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After another 10 minutes of the S40 corrugations I was starting to get seriously grumpy, because I couldn’t look for game as I had to keep my eyes on the road, but suddenly there were 2 “animals” in the road up ahead and they seemed to be having a scrap.

Everyone else was looking out the windows and it took my brain a few seconds to register what they were. “AWC in the road, CAMERAS!!!” where’s the damn CAMERA!” The Cow started making weird noises “Woo, Woo” and the hands were waving in the air, but the cameras weren’t coming.

The 1 AWC took off immediately up a tree and the other looked at us and then took off after the first one.

The first thing that I did was shout into the walkie talkie to Supernova, who was behind us and eventually we were organised enough to take pics.

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The poor guy that had climbed up the tree now seemed more nervous of us than his attacker, who after a few seconds, was now also starting to climb the tree.

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Suddenly there was frantic interaction in the tree and then the attacker bailed out the tree and took off through the grass. The remaining cat gave us another hairy eyeball and started down after the other.

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It was nearly 8am and I couldn’t believe that we had found these guys in the road at this time of the morning. This was a first for all of us at this time of the day.

It was still early when we arrived at Timbavati, so it was very quiet and there was only one other couple in the picnic site. I was debating another short drive as it was so early, but the rats were already settling in and Supernova had organized a skottel, so breakfast was on.

The usual bushbuck clan were wandering around all over the place and this entertained the rats who spent their time stalking them around the picnic site to get pictures.

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It was just after 9am when we finished breakfast and were back on the road down to Satara.

We chose to drive across the S127 to the H1-4, but it wasn’t the best decision and the H1-4 was very quiet all the way to Satara and it only produced a single Kori Bustard.

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We stopped at Satara sighting board and it indicated a lion and leopard sighting just down the S100, so we decided to go out again for another 30 minutes and then return for breakfast.

A few km down the S100 we bumped into a car coming from the S41 side and I asked him if there was any action and he said it was very quiet, so we decided to abandon our 30 minute trip and head back for breakfast, so at the first little loop we found, we turned and started to head back.

Another car had gone past us as we exited the loop and it had a yellow ribbon, so the chase was on. It was John and Poppy and we were amazed at how young and cool they were. We shared a bit of info and sighting history and then it was time to head back for lunch.

We did however get a chance to share a sighting of a few potential tuskers with them on the way back.

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To be continued

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 9:07 pm

August 10th Satara continued

We spent a large portion of the rest of the day exploring Satara with the rats, watching our little private waterhole and just relaxing.
The afternoon drive was an issue of debate as we were still desperate to find more leopards. Eventually it was decided that the S100 wasn’t an option in the afternoons as it always ends of the massive dust cloud when all return to camp and one can’t really see a thing, so we chose to drive to Bobbejaankrans and back.
We left camp just after 4pm and headed towards Nsemani where we found the local hippo gang out of the water catching some rays.

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The drive to Bobbejaankrans was a disappointment and an even bigger disappointment on the way back, although we did find a Bateleur and an ostrich, but no other general game, so it became very boring and long for the rats.

About 1km before Nsemani on the way back my car had lost interest, the rats were going crazy in the back seat playing some game, the Cow was greasing them every 5 minutes for making too much noise and I had gone into my sanity preservation trace, when suddenly the walkie talkie went from Supernova who was in front of us “HONEY BADGERS”

I initially swerved all over the road in fright and then shouted “CAMERAS!!”, as I spotted the 2 HB’s in the grass.

I still rate HB”s on the move as one of the most difficult things in KNP to photograph and we were going forward, then they rapidly changed direction and we had to frantically reverse, then they took off forward again.

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Then the damn things took off in different directions, which caused even more chaos and confusion. The Cow was starting to chirp, because every time she lined one up with the video camera, I took off with the car, so tension levels went from zero to ten in a few seconds.

In the end, between Supernova and I, we never got both together in one pic.

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We sat at Nsemani for 10 minutes relaxing the nerves and watching a group of ellies having their sundowners and then headed back for a braai.

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Back in camp the rats started some strange game in the lounge and Supernova and I started our mixed grill braai.

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Finally the rats went to bed, which freed us up to relax around the fire in peace, so a few more logs were added and the dops got refreshed.

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The hyenas kept walking past and the Cow kept charging off after them with my camera, but my camera’s flash only works for about 2m without a fence in the way, so the Cow was getting frustrated.

A few more dops later, Supernova and I came up with a plan, so we sneaked along the fence line in the dark, dop in hand and ambushed the hyena at point blank range through one of the holes in the fence as he came cruising past.

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To be continued (If you aren’t bored of lions yet, you will be after the next few episodes)

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger August 2011

Post by Bushcraft » Mon May 21, 2012 9:08 pm

August 11th Satara

I’m going to split this day up into more than 2 episodes as it was a fairly busy day.
The S100 has always been better to us in the mornings, so the plan this morning was to drive the S100, S41, S90 loop and come back to camp for breakfast.

The first part of the S100 produced all the usual general game and then it went quiet for a few km, but we soon found the reason.

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At first we thought that there was only one lion in the grass, but as we crept slowly forward the brother showed himself.

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After 10 minutes with them the crowd started to build and the brothers were just lying there, so we decided to continue on.

We stopped on the S41 at what we now call “Elephant Bridge” after the chaos we had here in April, but today there were no Cow killing elephants around, only a few boons in the river bed.

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Next up was a very alert looking waterbuck. We fiddled around trying to see what he was looking at, but eventually he relaxed and stopped staring intently in one direction, so we gave up and continued on.

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Just over the hill I spotted a lioness coming in our direction, so jumped on the walkie talkie to Supernova, who was behind us. If I look now at the time between our last waterbuck pic and the first lion pic it’s only about 3 minutes, so she must have been crossing behind the waterbuck.

She decided to stop in the middle of the road.

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Following her were 2 juniors. I was amazed that this group wasn’t part of a large pride, as surely these juniors would have been old enough to join the pride, but no other lions appeared

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The one junior was a little cocky and gave us the hairy eyeball, but the other one ran to mom for protection.

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The mother lioness kept stopping and looking at the riverbed, so we followed her gaze and spotted the reason for her nervousness. There were 2 ellies and 2 hippos out and about, as shown in the pic below and she was obviously nervous for her juniors, so she continued on a diagonal path past them before lying down in the bush.

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We waited another 5 minutes hoping that she would get up and continue along the same path, as we were only about 200m from the left turn onto the S90 and she would cross in front of us again, but it looked as if they had settled in for a sleep, so we continued on.

The first few km of the S90 from the S41 produced a few of the usual suspects and these guys below.

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A few seconds later I waved down an oncoming car and told them about the mother lion and her juniors just down the S41, they then proceeded to tell us about an awesome sighting just up from where we were. My adrenalin was charging now, so I thanked them twice and took off up the road.

To be continued

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