Brown's in Kruger April 2012

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:04 pm

April 3rd Skukuza to Satara continued

The rest of the drive to Tshokwane was relatively quiet, that’s until the clan spotted the green porta potties and the Cow started “There’s no way I’m standing in a queue to use that” and Hawkeyes agreed.

I didn’t see an issue, so got excited “What do you want me to do!!” and the response was “We will all hold it”, but the faces were all sour, so I suggested Orpen Dam toilets and all agreed, but had forgotten the quality of the long drop and I purposefully didn’t bring it up.

The road to Orpen Dam was quiet and a few other people obviously had the same idea, as Orpen was busier than usual. It was great to see that all the green algae got flattened by the flood, but I fear it will return shortly

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Toilet time for the clan was a real adventure and I was rolling listening to the conversation of all 4 that had squeezed into the long drop bog. The last to go was Albert and she refused to get on the bog, as Bushpiggy had suggested that something may live down there, which gave Albert big eyes and got Bushpiggy howling with laughter.

The Cow gave BP a greasing and after 5 minutes convinced Albert to go, so we were back on the road.

The rest of the way to Satara produced the odd elephant, giraffe, zebra and all the midday gang, including a lone immature waterbuck that was hanging out with impala, which I found strange.

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We arrived at Satara an hour too early and everyone was tired and irritated, so the Cow tried her luck at reception, but no joy, so we had to wonder around awhile, which ended up, the sighting board, web cam, back to the sighting board, shop and then back to reception.

We were allocated the Shoprite 6 sleeper unit, which seemed cool, but it was open when we arrived, so I tried to lock it, but it wouldn’t lock. The Cow reported this, but when we left 3 days later it was still stuffed and nobody ever arrived to repair it.

I was more concerned about our neighbours though who had moved their dining room table onto their veranda and were having a party. There were many families’ present, screaming adults, howling kids, bicycles, etc, so my pelican was out immediately.
After my second G&T and some rather loud comments from my veranda things hadn’t changed, so I put on my thunder face and walked around to the front of their unit to see what was going on.

They all seemed to get the hint, except for a drunken lady who continued to shriek her head off.

A few minutes later the small baby that was crawling around unattended fell off the veranda wall and landed face first in the dirt. Luckily the kid wasn’t seriously hurt, but this seemed to end the party and people started to leave in all different directions.

I don’t understand why some people can’t respect the fact that others maybe don’t want to hear their conversion or party, but I suppose all types visit Kruger, even those that don’t understand that there’s a time and place for everything.

We weren’t keen on a long afternoon drive, so decided to duck down the H7, check out Nsemani Dam, do the short S12/S40 loop and head back to camp.

Things were relatively quiet, until about 500m from Nsemani Dam where a few heads popped up in the grass.

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They lay down again a few seconds later and disappeared in the grass. We sat around with a few other cars for about 15 minutes, but the dogs weren’t showing themselves again, so I explained the Wild Dog greeting story that happens when they all wake up, but the clan looked at me as if I had smoked something, so I decided to continue with our route and stop back at the dogs at the correct time.

Nsemani Dam produced a large boon family that were scratching around in the dirt. We had a laugh at one who was rather nervous to have a drink, but eventually the thirst beat the nerves.

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The S12/S40 loop didn’t produce much and it had been a long day, so we ducked up the road to the dogs again, got a good spot and switched off to wait.

After 10 minutes the rats started “Dad are they still there, Dad I can’t see anything, Dad nothing is happening, Dad when is the ritual starting, Dad Albert won’t pass the crayons, Dad we are bored”
This was slowly building the blood pressure to exploding point, but just as I was about to blow, a head popped up “CAMERA, it’s starting”. Again the Cow looked at me as if I was mad.

Slowly, one at a time, the dogs got up and then it started, which got my car wild with excitement again

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The initial gang set more off and heads started popping up all over the place. We managed to count about 15 of them, but it was very difficult to get an accurate number as they were charging around

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This ritual and charging around carried on for about 10 minutes and then the lead dog took off into the bush and the rest followed.

The Cow was stoked that she managed to get the entire event on video, so I was no longer the faulty nutter.

We still had a few minutes to spare, so we went back to Nsemani to see what was happening and managed to get a couple of pics of a waterbuck family.

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On the way back to camp we found a large elephant next to the road, but the Cow made me drive past it and then stop at a safe distance for a pic.

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My teeth were hanging out as we pulled into camp, as it had been a good day, but then I remembered our defective neighbours and my beak returned.

Things sounded quieter as we got out at our unit, so I went to investigate and found that our neighbours had taken their party to another unit on the other side of the Satara circle. My teeth returned, but I did feel sorry for those on the other side of camp.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:05 pm

April 4th Satara
I woke up this morning feeling rather sick and spent from 4:30am until just after 6am running to the loo. The clan sat patiently waiting and I knew that all were keen to get on the road, but I was nervous of getting caught short, so made all wait until I felt confident to leave.

The plan this morning was to head up the H1-4, down the S90/S41 to N’wanetsi and then take the S100 back to camp.

Our first sighting of the morning was an ellie having breakfast.

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Then hundreds of little birds were “swarming” all over the place. I have seen this before, but it was a first for the rest of the clan, so the photo mission started, but we found it more difficult than expected. Eventually the Cow managed to get something identifiable.

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Just before the S90 turnoff I felt the familiar beads of sweat on the forehead, so knew that I didn’t have long, so the route got changed to Timbavati picnic site, which frustrated all.

Halfway down the S127 I spotted 2 shapes in the road, but they also spotted us and ducked into long grass. I shouted “Jackal” anyway, which got the rats excited as they all love them.

The jackal were moving with speed parallel to us, so I had to do some tricky reversing to keep up, which was a major mission in the blinding morning sun, but one eventually stopped long enough for me to snap a pic.

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After our Timbavati pitstop and a few cement tablets later I was feeling a little better, so we decided to go back down the S127 and continue with the route that we originally planned.

Next up was a Kori Bustard sunning its bum, which amused all. After this chap we found many more all doing the same thing.

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Just before the S90 turn off we found a few animals all hanging out together. How many different types of animals do you see in this pic?

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Turning onto the S90 I didn’t have much hope as we had already missed the prime time due to my gippo guts, but we continued anyway.

The S90 produced a few steenbok, ostrich and our 4th jackal for the morning that was howling for its partner

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On the S41 we found plenty of general game, hippo and another woodie

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When we reached the S100 turn off nobody needed the loo and it had already been a long morning, so we decided to duck down the S100 rather than going to N’wanetsi, but the S100 was also rather quiet and only produced a few waterbuck worth mentioning.

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To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:06 pm

April 4th Satara continued

When the S100 is quiet, it’s seriously quiet, so we were all a little disappointed by the time we hit the tar. I checked out the H7 turnoff and said “I’m still hundreds, should we go and check out Nsemani Dam?” Nobody else needed the bog, so all agreed.

The road to the dam produced a few locals, but as we approached the dam we noticed an elephant crossing the dam wall, so the Cow immediately insisted that I slow to almost a stop.

The view from the dam wall was incredible and I have rarely see this many elephant all together at a single dam. There were more to the left of the picture below that I couldn’t fit into the frame.

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There was a strange commotion taking place with the herd in the distance, but it was out of my binocular and camera range, so the Cow zoomed in with our 70X optical zoom video camera to see what was going on.

A couple of elephants that weren’t playing in the mud had found a buffalo skull and were sniffing it, kicking it and rolling it around. I have read somewhere about the fascination that elephants have with the remains of their own kind and sometimes other animals also, but we had never seen it before, so interesting to watch.

The crowd of “swimmers” slowly increased and some of smaller “swimmers” ducked out of the way.

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I stopped at the sighting board when we arrived back in camp and was surprised to see that the entire S126/Sweni road was covered in red lion magnets, so that was definitely on the cards for the evening drive, but first some relaxing time was required in camp.

Our rowdy neighbours had moved on which was a relief, so I put my feet up on the veranda and enjoyed the peace while the Cow took the kids for a swim.

My peace was short lived though as the rats returned with chattering teeth in the blink of an eye and then started hassling again as they were bored, but fortunately the local squirrels caught the eye and they had a new mission which involved leopard crawling after squirrels to get the best picture.

The squirrels tolerated it for awhile and then one turned and ran at them, which resulted in shrieks of “Squirrel attack” from all of them.

The Cow eventually participated and managed to get a few pics of the locals

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An hour later our new neighbours arrived and they had 4 kids of which 3 were girls about the same age as ours, so the rats immediately went into stalking mode and gradually approached them.

Bushpiggy, who isn’t easily embarrassed, made the first move and 5 minutes later my lounge was full of strange kids and they were from the UK on their first KNP trip, which fascinated my clan.

To my horror, 10 minutes later my clan invaded our neighbour’s home, so I had to go over and apologize, but ended up meeting super cool people; therefore called the Cow and joined the invasion with my Kruger maps and G&T.

After an hour of rattling off my best KNP advice, we said cheers and left with high hopes on our afternoon drive due to the sighting board S126 lion invasion.

It seemed as if many had observed the sighting board though, because we found ourselves in what seemed to be a mini Dakar rally, but reached the end of the S126 and had only spotted a few wildebeest and zebra, so turned and drove slowly back on the S126, because we must have missed something.

By the time we reached the other end my lip was well and truly on the steering wheel as all we spotted were the same wildebeest and zebra. We were also out of time, so turned towards camp in silence.

About 200m before camp we spotted a few cars, but all looked confused as to why the other had stopped, but we became sheep and joined the confused crowd. After 5 minutes I was losing patience and just as I was about to overtake the gang Hawkeyes screamed “THERE, AWC”

This felt like one of those faulty emails that say “find the cat in this picture”, because I couldn’t see it, but eventually after all looking down Hawkeyes’s finger we could all see it.

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We stopped at the sighting board again when we got into camp and I went on a mission to inform all who would listen that the board lied. A few thought that I had lost my marbles, but an elderly man passing by stopped and laughed at me, which got me more excited. Then he said “I spotted a group of kids this morning playing with the red lion magnets and they were putting them all over the S 126”. I felt like an egg head and slowly snuck away.

Lesson learnt: If something seems too good to be true it probably isn’t.

I still had a braai to enjoy and plenty of G&T to make me feel better.


To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:07 pm

April 5th Satara

The plan this morning was to do the S100, which has worked for us many times in the morning, but hardly ever worked in the afternoon, so we were on the road as the gates opened, but some faulty individuals must sleep at the gate, because we were only about 15th in the queue.

Some ducked North and a few down the H7, so we ended up about 6th in the queue, which was ok, but these early birds seem to think that 5km/h is a good speed at first light, so I spent more time trying not to hit the car in front of me than looking for game.

Eventually I passed a few of the tortoises and got amongst a few cars that were moving along nicely.

The first car stopped and so all followed their lead. Suddenly the Cow shouted “Look at all the buffalo” and started snapping away. Having spent many holidays in the bush on a farm, I bore with buffalo quickly as they are just like aggro cows in my eyes, so I looked around instead and then something caught my eye so I said “What about the lions that are hunting the buffalo”

The Cow freaked “WHAT, WHERE”, I replied “In front of us”. The cow was now flapping and I stole my camera off her lap.

Now I’m not sure if I lost the plot here, but the lions walked around about 40m from the buffalo for a few minutes and then headed for the road about 30m in front of the stopped cars, but the lead car wasn’t moving, so I was getting seriously excited.


The first young male lion crossed the road and still there was no movement from the lead car or any other cars, so I lost it, passed the gang and stopped next to the lions. 2 seconds later all the other cars also overtook the lead car and stopped behind me.

The Cow started telling me off, but stopped as the 2nd lion arrived next to her and a few seconds later another gave her the eyeball.

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I not sure if what I did was wrong, but I was now feeling guilty about overtaking, so moved past the lions thereby allowing others a chance at the good spot, although I still feel that the driver of the lead car was half asleep.

The buffalo also seemed as uneasy as I now felt.

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The damn lions now decided to walk up the road to where we were, so my uneasy feeling continued as we were again in the best spot. The 3 young males stopped next to us, but kept looking back, so I thought that they were looking at all the approaching cars. They waited for about 2 minutes and then seemed to make a decision and ducked off into the bush

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Suddenly the Cow shouted “There’s another one” This was the old guy of the gang, so the 3 younger males were obviously waiting for him to catch up.

The old chap never paused once and continued into the bush after the rest.

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I was still feeling guilty about my overtaking move, so immediately ducked off up the road, but a minute later 2 cars overtook me, probably to teach me lesson, because I chewed dust through my open window as they went past.

The rest of the S100 produced all the locals, but it wasn’t until just before the S41 that we found the 2 cars that had passed us and they were both stopped in the middle of the road, so we slowly approached and spotted the reason why.

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The lions didn’t seem happy about the company, so the female crossed the road in front of us and went to lie in the long grass next to the road. A few seconds later the male followed, but decided to mark his territory and show us his tonsils at the same time.

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Then an irritating thing happened. The car next to us decided that they needed to park on top of the male lion and then decided to hang out of their kombi to take pics. They were extremely lucky that they were in a kombi as the male snapped forward at them, but I was a little slow on the camera and missed the pic, although you can still see that he’s upset in the pic below

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The female decided to do some stretching exercises, which involved a few compromising positions. I couldn’t resist in saying “That’s how it’s done Cow”, which caused a thunder face from the Cow and confused expressions from the rats.

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The male seemed strangely uninterested in the stretching exercises and after 45 minutes of sitting with them waiting for the “act”, I suggested that he needed some potency tablets, which again caused the thunder and confused faces.

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15 minutes later the female got up, cruised into thicker bush and the male followed. I was now irritated that the male was slowed up, so suggested that we continue, but the Cow refused and said “Give them time”. I reminded her that there were no bogs up the S41/S90, which resulted in a decision change and we were on our way.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:08 pm

April 5th Satara continued

The S41 was still fairly quiet, due to the fact that it was still reasonably early and many were still waiting for the slowed up male lion to do his thing, so we could sit back and enjoy a slow leisurely drive.

I had already received my adrenalin dose for the morning at the lion sighting, so I was happy to stop for all things of interest, which got the Cow in a good mood.

Next up was a woodie with his kill, which I think is a king cricket and then a few of RP’s gang enjoying the morning sun.

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The next little river crossing produced a couple of fisherman with the master angler observing from the tree top.

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The rest of the S41 and then the S90 produced most of the usual gang including a few ostrich that we always find in this area.

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I will be a little vague about the next route that we took, because it produced 3 rhino including a mother and junior who crossed the road in front of us, which got my clan excited at the antics of the hypoactive junior, who seemed rather brave with his mother around.

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Next up we found more of the usual gang, a large croc sunning himself and Freddy Kruger sitting in a tree.

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Our roundabout route took us in the direction of Nsemani Dam again, which we didn’t mind as we hoped for a large elephant herd again, but on arrival found just two guys having a wrestling match mixed with a swim.

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I got bored watching the elephants that had now stopped wrestling and were cruising off in different directions, so started looking around and spotted Hawkeyes snapping pics at the grass next to our car, which confused me, so I asked “What’s up” and Hawkeyes responded with “Two butterflies are also wrestling”.

I didn’t say what I thought, which was that Mr Butterfly should give Mr Lion from earlier a few tips.

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When we arrived back in camp the rats ducked off immediately to see if their friends from the UK were still around, but returned with long lips as their mates had moved out, which I already knew, but failed to mention, so suggested that they go and have a look around as we may have new neighbours on the other side, which was just entertaining tactics on my part.

I was just settling down on our veranda with a midday G&T in peace when the rats all returned at pace, with Albert shrieking, Bushpiggy gleaming with joy and Hawkeyes with big eyes in the rear.

They all started talking at once, so I stopped the commotion and got Hawkeyes to tell the story. “There’s blood on the neighbour’s veranda! There’s been a kill!!” and Bushpiggy shouted through her smile “And a liver!!”

The Cow gave me the look to accompany them on a return visit and she grabbed the camera, so I lazily followed to see this “kill”.

The rats hadn’t been lying as something had taken out what I think was a pigeon. Bushpiggy was over excited at this find and started “Dad check the liver, the predator also doesn’t like liver” “Albert you better watch out you will get eaten also”, which got Albert howling and BP in trouble with the Cow.

Albert returned to our unit hanging onto the Cow’s leg and didn’t venture to far from our unit for the rest of our stay.

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After lunch I ducked off to the shop with Bushpiggy, who always comes with hoping to score a luck ice cream or something and bumped into our UK neighbours from the previous day who were excited about the fact that they had also seen lion in the day time on the S100 as their only other lion had been on a night drive.

I suggested that they better make tracks down to Skukuza as time was ticking, but as we said our goodbyes they mentioned “We also spotted a few dogs that ran across the road on the S100 just past the lion” I thought that they were smoking something and wished them well for the rest of their trip.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:10 pm

April 5th Satara continued

When BP and I returned from the shop I relayed the message about our new UK friends having seen dogs on the S100 just past the lions and that I thought they must have been confused, but the Cow said “I was shown a picture, so you confused”.

This confused me more “You weren’t at the shop, have you smoked something also?”

Our new UK friends had returned to pick up a toy bear that one of their kids had left behind while I was still shopping and had shown the Cow a picture. This freaked me out as I have never seen dogs on the S100, especially that far down, so the afternoon plan changed to that direction.

Our first sighting for the afternoon was the usual Waterbuck that hang out on the S100 every day, but this time something different was happening. Each time the aunty started grazing the uncle tried his luck, but seemed to lose out each time, because she just moved off, so he tried again and again, until I was bored watching, but never came right.

Looking back at the pics now I wonder if she ignored him because he wasn’t in the front of the line at birth and even if he came right she probably wouldn’t know.

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Next up was more of the usual and then two zebra loving each other.

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We reached the end of the S100 and hadn’t found the lion couple from the morning or the dogs, so my pelican had returned. The Cow suggested that we head down the S41 to N’wanetsi, let the rats use the loo and then make a decision on what to do. I agreed with the plan.

The S41 heading south was fairly quiet except for a Kori Bustard, which was a first for us on the southern section of the S41.

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We stopped at N’wanetsi, the rats hit the bog and then we all went up to the view point, which was cool as there was nobody around. The rats got highly excited about a “lizard” that kept running around.

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It was now decision time, H6 or back down the S41/S100. I personally haven’t had much success on the H6, although we have found badger on it before, so I suggested that we do the same S100 route back to camp, which created a few confused expressions, but I won the debate.

The S41 produced all the same gang again on the way back, so I was starting to feel the pressure of the decision, but a few km down the S100 produced the “mating” couple who had decided to come out of the bush again.

The slowed up male was still trying his luck, but wasn’t receiving the best welcome.

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We sat with them for another 30 minutes and he still wasn’t coming right, so I was getting highly frustrated and then the rats started “Dad what are we waiting for? Why did you tell Mommy that he’s slowed up? Are they married or girlfriend and boyfriend? Dad we are bored”

I looked at the Cow and suggested that we move on, “NO, we will wait” then the rats changed their angle of attack “Mommy, why are we waiting”.

The male eventually went to sleep and the female wasn’t far away from doing the same thing.

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After another 10 minutes the Garmin came to the rescue as we were running out of time, so the Cow was forced to give up waiting for the mating.

A few km later we were chatting and not paying much attention when suddenly a grey ghost stuck his head out of the bush next to the road, which gave us all a fright and got the Cow going with her usual instructions “OOO, AHHH, STOP, REVERSE, GO”. My feet slipped on the peddles in the confusion and I braked inside of going, which got things more heated “GO NOW”.

Fortunately we made it to safety before the Cow hyperventilated

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The next few km produced the normal elephant lecture, so I was staring ahead bluffing that I was paying attention when I spotted a car ahead of us suddenly brake and I could see the hands waving through the rear view window.

A few seconds later we spotted the reason, which quickly ended the lecture, “CAMERA”

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This lone dog checked around for a few seconds, lay down in the long grass and disappeared.

I checked the Garmin and we could afford to sit and wait for 15 minutes only and then we would arrive at camp at 6pm on the dot, so I switched off and we sat waiting.

I was about to call it when a head appeared, then another and another. I would have never guessed that there were so many dogs in the long grass, but a few set more off and they were up and running around.

We unfortunately only had a few minutes for pics and then had to call it.

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I was stoked at finding dogs on the S100, which was a first for us, so I was grinning all the way back to camp and Hawkeyes took a pic that sums up the day while we were driving.

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To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:11 pm

April 6th Satara to Skukuza

When the alarm went off I seriously didn’t want to get out of bed, as I was lacking in motivation and I may have over celebrated the wild dog sighting on the S100 at the braai last night.

At 5:45am the SO was up and giving me the stare, so I decided it would be safer to get moving.

I’m never happy leaving Satara as it normally means that we are heading towards the end of our trip, so I wasn’t particularly happy loading up.

This 2pm book in story is a nightmare when it comes to keeping meat frozen and due to the fact that Tshokwane is still closed we made plans to head down to Nkuhlu for a late breakfast, but I was a little nervous about the fact it was the start of the Easter weekend and if it was anything like last year we had chaos waiting for us in the South.

Our first sighting for the day woke me up though as it was the king of the area who was also waking up.

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He eventually posed for a semi facial and then lay down in the grass again. We sat around for about 15 minutes, but he never stirred again and the crowd was steadily growing, so we decided to move on.

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Next up was a pair of Secretary birds hanging around next to the road, but they took off across the grass as they spotted us, which resulted in me taking more pics of the grass or the back of the Cow’s head then the birds.

Eventually I got something that passes for a pic.

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A few km further we found another Martial Eagle and an elephant hiding out in the bush.

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Just before Tshokwane the Cow spotted about 50 vultures circling directly above the road, but we couldn’t see anything that may be causing this.

A few other drivers also stopped and looked around, but after 10 minutes we all gave up trying to find the reason and continued on.

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Next up we found a couple of giraffe and another woodie. The Cow had never seen so many woodies in the park before, so her teeth were hanging out.

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We arrived at the Tshokwane green bogs, which again produced the long lips “We are not using those.” So I said “Bake it then, because I’m not going to Orpen Dam” and ducked off to the first free bog.

When I got out the bog the entire clan was out the car looking at me, so I said “They are fine”, which caused the Cow to roll her eyes, but Hawkeyes had a full tank and roared off to the next free bog, which gave the rest enough guts to follow.

The only one that seemed to take longer than normal was Bushpiggy and I was about to go and investigate when she came out with a massive grin of her face, which always worries me “Why did you take so long”

“Dad, they have a pedal which flushes the toilet, it’s so cool”, which gave me all the information that I needed, but I hurried to the car as I expected the toilet to flood any second.

The rest of the drive was long and didn’t produce much except for a few buffalo next to the road.

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There was a fair gang at Nkuhlu, but we didn’t have another choice, so had to wait our turn for a table and a skottel. After half an hour we were in luck and breakfast started.

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The local raiders pulled in and stole our neighbours bread, which irritated the hell out of me, but the rats were in their element and in a few minutes so was the Cow. I never understand this as we have them raiding our garden every day and there’s no rush to take pics then.

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Nkuhlu just got busier and busier as the midday day visitors poured in, so I was happy to be out of there and back on the road, but this had also turned into a bumper to bumper stressful story and the Cow exploded “Welcome to Easter in Kruger, this is ridiculous”

I put blinkers on and ducked for Skukuza, which with all the overtaking, stopping, etc took longer than expected, although we did spot a few of the local animals on the way, which I’m surprised weren’t choking on all the exhaust fumes, but each time we stopped we were engulfed by other cars in less than a minute, so we gave up on that also and put the cameras away.

The Skukuza book in was hectic, so we eventually got to our unit, which was the Elsie Clark cottage as a treat, just after 3pm and I said “There’s no way I’m going back out into that”, so I settled in with my G&T, the Cow went on a camp bird mission and the rats spent their time irritating both of us.

At about 5:30pm we were all restless again, so decided to do our little leopard loop just outside camp, which unfortunately didn’t produced anything.

We arrived back at the camp gates just before 6pm and there was a drama unfolding. About 15 cars were trying to get out the camp gate, but the gate guard wasn’t letting them out as there’s no way that they were going to make it to an exit gate by 6pm.

We slowed next to the chaos, but many seemed drunk and fortunately most of the language the rats didn’t understand, but a few choice words were understandable in any language, so I continued on, stopped at the reception parking and walked up alone to see if I could gauge things better.

The crowd that couldn’t get out were now moving towards the car park and this wasn’t what I wanted my family in the middle of, so I ducked into reception and suggested to all the staff present that they should assist their gate guard quickly as he was about to get overrun or smacked in the ear. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be a quick reaction, so I wished them good luck and ducked off down to our unit.

Hats off to the gate guard though for doing his job. I would love to shake his hand one day and give him a medal

We had some visitors at our unit when we arrived, which surprisingly delighted all of us. The “nest/house/whatever” had been empty during the afternoon, but the clan had arrived for the night. It felt “special sitting on the veranda with these guys above us.

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The local scallywag arrived shortly after I light the fire also.

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I hope that this episode wasn’t to negative, but it wasn’t our best day in Kruger, although things improve.

To be continued

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:13 pm

April 7th Skukuza to Lower Sabie

We got an early night’s sleep, so the Cow and I were both up at 5am and hyped up to get on the road before the crowds; therefore the car packing mission started immediately and we were ready to go by 5:30am, which was obviously way too early, so we made another cup of coffee and all sat in the dark on the veranda absorbing the sounds.

Suddenly a chainsaw like noise came from across the river, which I immediately recognized as a leopard, then a hyena started from another direction, then the leopard went again. This had us all staring intently across the river trying to spot something in the low light. The leopard went a few more times and then silence, but it had set the excitement up for the day.

The plan was to do the S114, cut across the S21 to the H4-1 and then make a plan from there on what to do to pass the time until we could book in.

Just before the S114 turn off my usual stomach stuff up started, so we had to turn and head all the way back to camp, much to everyone’s frustration, because we were wasting prime viewing time.

We eventually got back to the S114 turnoff just before 7am and we were all in a mood by that stage, but fortunately about a km in produced our first major sighting for the day, although I wasn’t impressed with the condition of this lion walking down the road towards us.

The rats started “Shame Dad call a ranger, the ribs are sticking out”

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I explained that it was probably a young male trying to find his feet and that he should be ok.

Next the half an hour produced all the usual gang and then a close encounter with a few tanks, which is always awesome.

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The next close encounter was full of the usual instructions, which resulted in us stopping at a safe distance for pics.

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About 4km before the end of the S21 we stopped the take pics of some type of bird that the Cow spotted and another car stopped next to us. “What have you guys seen”, “A bird” was my response.

This started the Cow off “Be polite”, so I reopened the conversion explaining our other sightings from the morning and they said “We haven’t seen much from Lower Sabie but there are dogs on the road a few km down the tar” I suddenly became very polite, got the full details, waved goodbye and we were off in that direction.

A few km down the tar in the direction of Lower Sabie the Cow and I started “Are you sure he said turn right”, “NO, you were talking to him”, “Well weren’t you listening”, “Don’t blame me now”, “I’m, not but you all have ears”, “Now you are blaming the kids also”.

This went on for a few more minutes and then we spotted them.

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They didn’t seem at all worried about the cars and let us get in very close for pics. Then the smell hit us “Who dropped it”, followed by howls of protest, which again set me off “QUIET”. “Daddy, the dogs stink” and the Cow confirmed it was the dogs, but I ignored the commotion.

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We were so focused on the dogs that we hadn’t paid attention to the fact that most of the cars were all stopped 30m ahead of us, but we assumed it was just more dogs, so continued taking pics, until an excited driver stopped next to us “Have you seen the leopard”.

“WHAT”

To be continued

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Bushcraft
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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:14 pm

April 7th Skukuza to Lower Sabie continued

I repeated more politely “Pardon” The excited driver next to us repeated “There’s a leopard just up the road”, so I blurted out “30m in front of us” “Yes!!” he said.

He then went on to explain that the dogs killed an Impala next to the road and as they started to feed a big male leopard ran in and chased them off the kill. The dogs then regrouped and charged the leopard, which fled, but returned a few minutes later to continue his scrap with the dogs.

The leopard was still there trying to steal the remains of the kill from a few dogs, hence the chaos ahead of us and nobody at these dogs.

I could have died there on the spot, because we always drive the H4-1 looking for leopard our first morning when in the Skukuza area and because the sighting boards indicated action on the S114, but nothing on the H4-1, we chose that route and had just missed the sighting of a lifetime.

I thanked the excited chap next to us and drove up to the crowd, but by now I was completely over excited and frustrated at missing out, so tensions were very high in our car, which is always a recipe for an explosion with me.

The other dogs were scattered all over on one side of the road and were looking intently at the other side, but we couldn’t see what was happening.

We eventually got into a position where we could see the leopard, but only through the windscreen and there was another car in front of us blocking some of the view, so the gap to see the leopard, although only 1 car in front of us, was small

I screamed “TAKE PICTURES”, because I know that a leopard ducks when faced with this type of traffic and the Cow had the camera on her lap, but the Cow said “At what?” .I shrieked again “The damn leopard sitting over there looking at us”. The Cow was halfway through “I can’t through the windscreen” when the leopard ducked from the side of the road into the bush.

This caused an explosion in our car that I won’t elaborate on, but it may have given the guy in front of us a fright, because he suddenly moved forward, so I shot forward, but only in time to spot the leopard’s butt as he ducked for cover, which again caused an explosion, because this time I was to slow on the camera.

I would hate to think what the oncoming traffic thought looking at us, because the Cow and I were now in a full scale argument. Thinking back now, I’m not sure why, because it’s only a photo.

We were only left with the remains of the kill to photograph.

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We all had pelicans now, but there was no point in hanging around, so I reversed back to the dogs and continued taking pics in silence, but truth be told I was sulking.

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About 15 minutes later a large portion of the dogs got up and started sniffing around and then something that we hadn’t see before started happening. It almost looked like a well mannered dog fight began to unfold.

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I couldn’t figure out what was happening, but the yapping was increasing in intensity rapidly.

Suddenly the penny dropped, but I didn’t say it our loud, although Bushpiggy started laughing “Daddy the one is going for a ride on the other one”.

My sulking evaporated, because the “lucky” dog was looking at me and all I could think about was that he was saying “Who’s your daddy”, so I also cracked up.

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The aunty tried to escape, but he hung on, which excited Bushpiggy and Albert even more “Daddy, he’s shaking his bum”. I ignored Bushpiggy, but Hawkeyes came to the rescue “They are mating you idiots”, which shut Bushpiggy up for a few seconds and then “Mommy are they mates”, which got Hawkeyes going again “They aren’t mates you idiot they are mating”. This seriously confused Bushpiggy, so a sister attack started.

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I looked at the Cow and she wasn’t responding, so I assumed that it was safer to just keep my mouth shut.

The aunty eventually threw shaky bum off, which started another mini “dog” fight and then they scattered all over the place.

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After charging around they ducked deeper into the bush and disappeared. We hung around another 10 minutes and got a few more glimpses of them, but it looked as if the majority had moved down into the river bed, so we made the decision to head on up to Nkuhlu for a late breakfast.

Just before Nkuhlu we spotted a JJ stopped on the side of the road and all had their cameras going, so I stopped behind them, but couldn’t see anything. We looked at them for a sign of what was happening, but there was no reaction, so I slowly moved around them and still no reaction, so I continued on, but slammed on brakes just in front of them. Next to us in the road was a snake, which I think may be a female Boomslang.

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Unfortunately we gave the snake a fright and it moved off, so again I felt guilty about overtaking, but the JJ occupants should have said something before we went past and I would have stopped immediately, so I justified my conscience.

We ordered takeaways at Nkuhlu and take my word for it, dodge the “elephant” breakfast as it will give an elephant gippo guts.

We wobbled around at Nkuhlu for about an hour to pass the time and then headed down to Lower Sabie.

We took a short 4km trip up the S21 to a no name dam that we enjoy on the way down to Lower Sabie and it produced an elephant having a bath.

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The rest of the drive to Lower Sabie produced more traffic then animals, but I was stoked anyway as it had been a big 5 and dogs morning.

To be continued

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Re: Brown's in Kruger April 2012

Post by Bushcraft » Tue May 22, 2012 8:15 pm

April 7th Skukuza to Lower Sabie continued

The Lower Sabie book in was surprisingly smooth and in 15 minutes we were at our EH5 unpacking.

I’m not the most sociable character when it comes to noise, strangers, etc so I was dreading the evening Lower Sabie hut accommodation interaction, so after unpacking I grabbed a table, chairs, braai and spread things out in front of our unit, but noticed that two bench type tables had been set up next to us, so I decided to do some sniffing around, but all seemed normal with the other guests, so I settled in with a G&T.

The plan for the afternoon drive was to head up to Nkuhlu for a break and then duck back to Lower Sabie for an early braai as it was our last night in the park, so I was already starting to feel the stress of the long drive that we faced the next day and my lip was starting to drop just as it does on a Sunday night knowing that I have work the next day.

The drive produced all the usual gang until just before the S79 causeway turnoff where we spotted about 8 cars all stopped on the side of the road, so I slowly approached the back of the queue.

Everybody seemed to be looking into the bush on the left hand side of the road, but we couldn’t see anything, so after 5 minutes I was getting frustrated, therefore decided to pull up next to the back couple of cars and ask them what was happening.

As I moved up next to the cars a lady suddenly started aggressively waving at me, so I asked “What’s up” and she replied “There’s a leopard in the bush here somewhere, switch your car off NOW!!”, so I did as instructed. The Cow started “What a rude lady” and I responded with “A real Cow”, but we still couldn’t see anything and I doubt that the rude lady could either, because all the vehicle occupants were looking all over the place.

2 minutes later the lead car on the left, which was about 20m ahead of us, started moving forward, but nobody else reacted, which increased my frustration as there’s only one reason why they would be moving slowly forward and that’s because the leopard was on the move.

I said “The leopard is on the move”, but all looked at me as if I was mad, which increased the tension.

A minute later the lead car was now 50m ahead of the rest of the cars, but still moving along slowly, so I lost it and said “Stuff it”, started my car, which got the rude lady excited again, but I ignored her and moved past the stopped cars up to the moving car and we spotted the leopard.

The leopard was moving fairly quickly through the bush, so I shrieked at the Cow “Take pics, just snap away with my camera as its fast, I have to watch the road” The camera sounded like a machine gun, so my teeth were hanging out, because we must be getting great shots.

Each time the leopard moved into a gap in the bush I shouted “NOW” and the camera went off, which gave me even more confidence that we were getting brilliant pics.

About 2 minutes later the leopard changed direction and moved off into deeper bush and out of sight. At this stage we couldn’t even see the cars behind us that were probably still stopped on the side of the road getting instructions from the clueless rude lady.

We stopped, started all chatting about the sighting and I asked the Cow for the camera to check our amazing shots. The first was blurred, then the second, third, fourth, etc, and I could feel my blood pressure rising, so blurted out “What have you done to the camera”, which got the Cow going “NOTHING”
I checked the settings and spotted that they were all off and then remembered that I had been playing at our unit trying to take low light shots on a tripod in our newly renovated EH5 unit, but wasn’t going to take the blame so shouted “The settings are off you need camera lessons” and the Cow shrieked back “Your camera is rubbish, I should have used the old camera”

Fortunately Hawkeyes had grabbed the old camera and managed to get two pics that are useable.

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At the time the Cow and I didn’t know that Hawkeyes had any pics, so thought that we had stuffed things up again for the second time in the day, therefore our scrap continued for another 5 minutes.

We continued in silence to Nkuhlu without any other major sightings.

I always love Nkuhlu at this time of the day, because the crowds have moved off and you can enjoy the peace and it was more peaceful for me today as the Cow was still in “picture but no sound” mode.

Our first sighting on the way back to camp was another Martial, which I thought may switch the Cow to sound mode, but the pics were taken in silence.

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About 10km from camp I shouted “IN THE ROAD”, which rapidly switched the sound back on.

To be continued

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