Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South *

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:25 pm

Day 4, Tuesday 5th Oct., Olifants

It rained quite heavily during the night but we awoke to bright sunshine. Our plan for the day was to head down the S90 and S41, get onto the S100 and then make our way to Timbavati for brunch. We left camp as the gates opened and then decided to rather stick to the H1-4, thinking that after the rain we might find some cats on the tar.......BINGO! :P About 13kms out of camp we saw a few cars spread out on the road......16 lions on the side of the road!!! z0z They were all fairly young, having a bit of fun in the grass – jumping on each other, biting tails. We were with them for about 10 mins before they started to cross the road in dribs and drabs.

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This one couldn’t take her eyes off the Brat (maybe she also thought he was handsome :lol: )....see how she’s had the end of her tail bitten off.

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Still staring at the Brat, who closed his window very quickly!!! :shock:

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There were a number of cars now but no traffic jam as the lions were quite spread out so there was plenty of room for everyone to find a good spot. You can see another one on the road further on.

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And I suppose this is how tails get bitten off. :roll: :lol:

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They eventually all disappeared into the bush and we moved on, feeling sorry for the people who were just arriving, but very pleased with ourselves for changing our planned route....what a fantastic start!!! \O/ Within minutes of leaving the lions, the sun disappeared behind heavy clouds which seemed to appear out of nowhere and the wind started to pick up. Not my favourite weather in Kruger! :?

A bit of a brain teaser:

Before we had reached the lions a couple of cars had overtaken us at quite a speed, so we presumed that someone had radioed or phoned them about the lions. We asked one of them and it turned out that they didn’t know about the lions and they had come from Letaba and had been “moving it”!! What speed had they been doing to reach the lions before us and we had come from Olifants !!! O/ O/

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:25 pm

Day 4, Tuesday 5th Oct., Olifants cont.

We carried on down the H1-4 and found one hyena at the Ngotso den. At the waterhole, zebra and wildebeest were arriving for a drink. One zebra obviously took exception to sharing and gave the wildebeest next to him an almighty kick!! :shock:

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A bit further on and we saw a kori bustard.

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I had promised the Brat a night drive and we were going to do one at Shingwedzi but they were fully booked, so we stopped at Satara so I could go to the office....thankfully there was still space for the following night...much to the Brat’s delight!

We carried on to the S100....would this trip be the one to break our bad luck spell on this road? There was a lot of game around – waterbuck, zebra, wildebeest and impala, and I found lots of Retz’s Helmetshrikes which I had never seen before.

I know this is not a great pic, but I just love the airborne oxpecker!!! :lol:

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And then, about 14 kms onto the S100...cars. :shock: 10 lion cubs were lying on some rocks about 50 metres away!!! No adults, just a cuddle of cubs! :P

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They were quite active at first but soon they all snuggled up against the cold weather to have their morning nap.

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Now, where there are cubs there must be moms so we thought we’d wait around to see if they returned. The cubs woke up again and were getting a bit restless, but they were obviously told to stay put and they were not moving off that rock!!!

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We stayed with them for over an hour but now we were getting restless so we decided to make our way back along the S100 and get to Timbavati. The weather had really turned gloomy now and we saw nothing of note on the way. By the time we reached the picnic spot the wind had really picked up and it wasn’t very pleasant but we were starving so we decided to brave the elements. We had to put the skottel behind the sign so the flame wouldn’t go out. :roll:

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We had the usual – bacon, porkies, tomatoes, eggs and toast. When my dad had cooked the first egg I put the plate down on the table and seconds later a gust of wind took the plate and egg and deposited it under someone else’s table!!! Thank goodness they didn’t end up with egg on their face! -O We huddled behind a tree and ate as quickly as possible, and were soon back in the warm car!!!

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:26 pm

Day 4, Tuesday 5th Oct., Olifants cont.

We left Timbavati on the S127, and were remarking on the fact that we still hadn’t seen any rhino, when what should we spot? :shock: A rhino...far away and no good for a pic, but still a rhino (just not a black one :( ). We got back onto the tar heading towards Olifants and saw....another 2 rhino...also far away! :roll: We saw some cars stopped up ahead and the Brat got very excited, but it wasn’t a leopard! It was an immature Martial Eagle (I think) feeding on something.

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At Nyamarhi we found a lone ellie, blowing bubbles.

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We sat with him for a while, and my dad found a paint brush in the cubby hole which I keep there to get the dust out of those hard-to reach places. He was now in his element – giving the dashboard a good dusting!! -O When the cleaning was finished we moved on and found mom and 1 cub at the hyena den, but a bit too far away for pics this time, but I did take some pics of a Blue Waxbill and Little Bee-eater...which then ended up in the recyle bin! :roll:

We got back to Olifants without seeing much more. The weather was now horrible...it was freezing! :? I have never been so cold in Kruger, and all I had packed was one thin jersey, no long pants and no tackies...only slops!! O/

We did a short afternoon drive along the S92, the S91 and back on the tar, spending most of our time on the low level bridge, being entertained by grey herons, wagtails and a hippo plodding along.

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Then this sorry sight...he had such sad eyes and every blink looked painful for him! :(

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This ellie didn’t appreciate our presence and showed off with some ear flapping and head shaking, but we felt reasonably safe on the bridge! :lol:

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On our way back to camp, someone stopped us to show us something I had never seen before – a hare (actually there were two – one on either side of the road)!!! z0z

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We took a quick drive up to the viewpoint and bumped into Eugene but we didn’t stay long as it was even windier and colder up there!

The last pic of the day - a White-fronted Bee-eater.

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On the menu tonight were home-made lamb sosaties with mielies and avos! 8)

Grandfather and grandson sharing a joke. :lol:

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:28 pm

Sun Oct 23, 2011
Day 5, Tuesday 6th Oct., Olifants - Satara

This morning we up early again to pack up for our move to Satara, and, again, there was no hot water in the kitchen! :evil: It was a cool 12° but thankfully nice and sunny! We did the H1-4 again, but no lions this morning. We saw 2 rhinos, 2 secretary birds, a reedbuck (another first), and a beautiful pale tawny eagle, of which I got beautiful pics!!! The reason I’m not showing you the pics is that I STUPIDLY deleted all the pics I took that morning!!!! O/ O/ O/ Ei And I’m not even blonde! -O-

We got onto the S100 but no cubs today and it was totally dead….the S41 and the H6 were also dead!!! Finally at Mazithi we found some life…rhino and zebra drinking, and a hamerkop doing some low-level flying over the water…I’m sure I got some nice pics but now I’ll never know!!!! -O- O/ We noticed a herd of buffs a bit further down on the other side of the road and went to take a look. It was a huge herd and they were on a mission to get to the water. We watched the whole herd cross the road and take over Mazithi. I was snapping away, all to no avail. :roll: Thank goodness we filmed the buffs, so we have the videos to remember this spectacle, and this one pic that I took by mistake before switching to video.

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It was amazing to see and hear, and within minutes the water was being churned up and turned into mud soup!

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:28 pm

View My Video

While the buffs were drinking a herd of ellies came down to drink at the reservoir and then crossed the road.

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Two of the best sightings of the trip and no pics to show for it!! O/ :roll:

We carried on towards Satara, and thankfully at this stage I had to change memory cards so pictures are now restored!

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At Sweni we saw an Ostrich couple, and we were so busy looking at them it took us a couple of seconds to realise what was below them - 19 very well-camouflaged chicks!!! This was another first for us!! z0z

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Imagine having 19 kids!!! :shock:

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:29 pm

Day 5, Tuesday 6th Oct., Olifants – Satara cont.

After checking in at Satara and unpacking we worked out our route for the afternoon - the S126 along the Sweni, the S36 and back along the H7. We saw absolutely nothing :evil: until we got to Nsemani where 3 ellies where having fun in the water. These pics are heavily cropped so not great quality.

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That was it for our afternoon sightings. My dad remarked that the sightings board at Satara looked like it had measles, but we couldn’t find one measly little leopard, or lion, or cheetah!!!! :roll:

Back at camp my dad got a fire started even though we were having a quick plate of pasta for dinner as the Brat and I were going on the night drive. This was when I deleted all my pics!! O/

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The Brat and I got dressed as warmly as we could, and made our way to the restaurant. We got the two seats behind the door and found two blankets. We promptly grabbed one and wrapped it around our legs. Our driver’s name was Tavern, which he said was very ironic as he was not a drinker! :lol: This was our first ever night drive and we were not sure what to expect. As we drove out of camp there was a herd of buffs leaving the waterhole, then the guy behind us, with the spotlight, found an AWC in a tree right next to the road....but it ran off very quickly! Another of many firsts on this trip. z0z We turned left and then right into the road with the no-entry sign. We saw hundreds of steenbokkies on the drive. Then the lady with the spotlight on the other side spotted something in a tree....a large spotted genet....yes, another first!! \O/ The photos are terrible as most of the sightings were just that little bit too far off, but proof none the less!!

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We got onto the S41 and found a herd of wildebeest, some sleeping giraffes, and a night jar. The lady with the spotlight was very good and was finding things all the time (the guy behind us wasn’t as good). She spotted something which everyone said was a porcupine, I thought it was a honey badger...it turned out to be a White tailed mongoose. ^Q^ We saw another 3 AWC’s and watched one trying to catch a bird...I couldn’t believe how high it could jump!! :shock: We got onto the S90 and saw something dash across the road....it was a civet!!! z0z But I couldn’t get a pic. We were soon back on the tar heading back to camp – we were nice and warm under the blanket but our faces were freezing!! The Brat spotted 2 jackals in the haphazard light of the spotter on our side, but he moved the light off them straight away – obviously he wasn’t interested in seeing them! :roll: Another White-tailed mongoose was spotted and while we were watching it we heard lions roaring. We moved on, came round a bend and found an ellie in the road! He didn’t detain us long and melted into the bush. We were approaching camp and the Brat was upset that the drive was over and bemoaning the fact that we hadn’t seen a leopard. There was a shout from the ‘lady spotter’...can you see what it is?

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Two young male lions out on the prowl only about 100 metres from the camp fence. We watched them for a while before they disappeared into the night.

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So all in all, a pretty good drive – 4 AWC’s, 2 White-tailed mongooses, a night jar, a genet, a civet, 2 jackals, an ellie and 2 lions :D (but still no leopards :( )!! We got back to the bungalow and the Brat excitedly told my dad all about it. He is now hooked and informed me that we will be doing a lot more night drives in future..... I enjoyed it but I’m not sure if I would rush to do it again. Call me a bore, but I much prefer to be in my own vehicle without a whole bunch of strangers! :lol:

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:29 pm

Day 6, Wednesday 7th Oct., Satara – Lower Sabie

The gates opened on a bright sunny morning but there was still a chill in the air – only 9°. We got onto the H1-3 for our trip down to LS and spotted a lazy rhino in the distance. As we crossed the Sweni, we saw a few cars stopped and something in the road…a very regal-looking lion! :D

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As we got closer we saw a female on the side of the road.

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Then another and another….10 altogether!!! z0z Just my luck, they were all on the wrong side of the car for me so I was shooting through the windscreen, past my dad or over his seat, :roll: so the pics aren’t great, but another great sighting.

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This male brushed our car as he passed us.

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They were very alert, moving towards the Sweni River. A couple of warthogs caught their eye and they looked very interested, but obviously decided they needed something a bit bigger. They disappeared through the lala palms so we decided to turn back and take the Sweni road to see if we could intercept them, and a couple of other cars followed suit. We drove very slowly scanning the bush and soon found two females sitting on the nearside bank. The others must have been in the riverbed, and after sitting there for a while we decided to move on.

This hyena crossed the road towards the warming sun.

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And finally, a rhino that was close enough for some pics. :P

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At Mazithi, we found this very handsome kudu bull…

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…two juvenile Saddle-Billed Storks and a famous lady……Martie!! 8) She was with her daughter, I Have A Crazy Mom , and her daughter’s SO. This was Martie’s last day in the park, and confirmed what we had thought – that Satara was unusually quiet. We parted ways and then met up again at Tshokwane where we had stopped to get some pies. We had another chat, over a cigarette this time, which I could see Martie was enjoying immensely as she was in a car with non-smokers. :lol: My dad took a pic and as you can see Martie was looking very glamourous, and I...less so…the lack of magic potions was taking its toll!! ^0^

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:30 pm

Day 6, Wednesday 7th Oct., Satara – Lower Sabie cont.

After leaving Tshokwane we turned in at Leeupan and found a few vultures eating something on the ground very close to the road. There was a Hooded vulture and a couple of White-headed vultures – two vultures I have never got pics of before. :P They actually caused a bit of a traffic jam.

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A Yellow-billed kite was also surveying the area with interest and I finally managed to get some decent BIF shots (for me anyway). z0z

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We moved on and found some ellies, with this tiny little one stealing the show. :D You can imagine that mom was very protective so it wasn’t easy getting a good shot.

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Should have plucked a hair!!! :lol:

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When we crossed the low-level bridge over the Sabie, some people told us that there were 3 lions on a kill just after the H1-1 and H1-2 intersection, and there were a few cars there so we should find it.

“A few cars”??? -O Welcome to the South!!! :roll:

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And just to make you really feel like you’re getting away from it all in the bush.....

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Tue Nov 01, 2011
Day 6, Wednesday 7th Oct., Satara – Lower Sabie cont.

We waited in the queue, but of course there were those who had to try and push in and cause even more chaos!! :evil: There were plenty of vultures and marabou storks around so that kept me entertained while we waited.

A vulture sculpture.

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I was clicking away but just couldn’t get that perfect shot. :roll:

Maribou Stork

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Coming into land.

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Eventually we got to see what all the fuss was about. They were very close to the road but in very thick bush and I couldn’t be bothered to change lenses as we weren’t planning on hanging around!

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We left the chaos behind and soon came across another traffic jam, but not nearly as bad as the first one. There was a lioness lazing in the river bed.

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We didn’t stay too long there either, and carried on towards Lower Sabie, seeing some bush buck and a fish eagle along the way.

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Our last sighting before reaching LS was 4 hyena sleeping in the shade of some trees. We saw them in the same place on the next two days so there is obviously a den in the area.

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We got to LS and settled into our river-front bungalow. It was the first time that we managed to get one of these units and it was lovely. :P We were in No. 3 and the only drawback was that it was right next to reception and the restaurant, so it was a little bit noisy during the day, but fine at night.

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:30 pm

Day 6, Wednesday 7th Oct., Satara – Lower Sabie cont.

The Brat and I went down to the pool to cool off and then it was back into the car for our afternoon drive. As we were pulling out of our parking bay we spotted this colourful fella next to the car. 8)

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We decided to go up the S128 and back on the H10...according to the sighting’s board, and everyone we had spoken to, that’s where all the game was. :? We did not see one single animal on the S128! :roll: The H10 was more promising, with lots of zebra and wildebeest enjoying the new grass sprouting after the fires, and a large herd of buffs. We also found this Bateleur snacking on something.

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It was now time to go and sit at Sunset Dam for a while. As usual there were plenty of hippos, and some with passengers. :lol:

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Yellowbilled Stork

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While we were watching the comings and goings I heard someone say, “Hello Flutterby!” :shock: A car had pulled up next to us bedecked with ANC ribbons on the rear door handle...Leachy!!! :P (BTW - how did you know who I was? :? ) We exchanged greetings and I introduced the Brat and dad Dave. We compared sightings and made small-talk, as you do. :lol: There were a couple of kudus browsing next to Leachy’s car and he pointed out this one with odd horns.

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After Leachy bid farewell my dad’s leg started cramping. He opened the door so he could straighten it, and the Brat started having conniptions!!! UO “You can’t open the door! You’ll get us all into trouble! Close the door!” I won’t recount the rest of the conversation between grandfather and grandson but, suffice it to say we decided to return to camp so that my dad could rest his leg. O** But of course, the Brat was most put out that we were returning SO EARLY!! :roll: Even though it was already 5pm and we’d been in the car almost all day, I thought the best way to ease the tension was to take the Brat out for a short drive and give my dad some peace! 0: I realised that it was the first time I'd EVER driven in Kruger...not so easy to look for game and watch the road at the same time! :lol:

The Brat opted for the low-level bridge, ever hopeful that he would find the otter that he spotted there last year. :lol: No such luck...just a Goliath Heron....

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...a Giant Kingfisher, a croc on a rock and a Pied Kingfisher.

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One last pic and then back to camp.

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 2:31 pm

Day 7, Thursday 8th Oct., Lower Sabie

We awoke bright and early for our last full day in Kruger. While filling the coffee flask I saw a hyena saunter along the fence. Driving past Sunset Dam a few minutes later we saw another hyena...I’m sure it was the same one. We came across two bushbuck – one looking for a fight, the other one a much more peaceful fellow. Excuse the quality of the video. :oops:

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We decided to take the S21, which turned out to be a good decision!!! We saw 4 rhino, and a redcrested korhaan. While we were watching the korhaan we heard two gunshots!!! :shock: I hope it was rangers shooting some poachers!! O= We saw another hyena, and then as we came round a corner my dad and I both shouted “Black Rhino”!!! It was in a clearing close to the road but because we couldn’t contain our excitement it bolted into the bush and the only pic I have to show is a grey smudge! O/ O/

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It was a very quick sighting, but good enough for us!!! At last we had found our blackie and “Operation Ubhejane” had been a success!! z0z That put us all in a very good mood, and the Brat found great joy in pointing out that we were always telling him to keep quiet, but when it mattered most we were the ones who were too noisy!! :oops: :oops:

While we were stopped, hoping the rhino would come back, a car came the other way, and stopped next to us. We told them about the blackie and they told us about some wild dogs on the road where the S114 meets up with the H1-1, and an “angry” lion a bit further past that. This was close to where we had seen Kamea and her pups in 2009 so we were quite excited but tried to keep calm in case they weren’t there. A few more cars passed us but no-one stopped to tell us of anything up ahead so we started to wonder if they had made it all up. Well, there were no wild dogs and no “angry” lion, just an angry Brat. :evil: He was convinced that they had sent us on a wild goose chase. We stopped in at Skukuza and then got back onto the H4-1. The lions were still on the buff carcass and there was still a major traffic jam but it didn’t detain us too long.

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There were lots of ellies along the road, and this lot who couldn’t make up their minds. The video was taken through the windscreen, so again, not great quality.

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Big and small.

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Posing for us.

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We carried on and came across the same people who had told us about the wild dogs. The Brat told them we hadn’t found the wild dogs and asked what they were looking at now....”a leopard in the tree....just over there”, and then they drove off. We all grabbed our binoculars and scoured the tree, but not a spot to be seen....we now agreed with the Brat that these people enjoyed telling porkies!! :roll:

We saw the same hyenas as the day before and a little further on, a rhino crossing the road.

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