4 September 2017 - It is always exciting as a field guide, meeting the next group of clients. I was very privileged to find out that I was taking only one gentleman who is a qualified field guide and photographer. This meant we could do some real exploring as two field guides. We were looking for great photographic material from rocks, landscapes and animals. I have found in my time that I have spent in the bush that taking your time and appreciating all aspects of nature, normally unravels some great wild life memories. We arrived at our camp overlooking the Letaba river by 2pm to check in. Once we had settled in, we departed for a fantastic afternoon drive along the river. As the golden light crept up, providing the best light for capturing wildlife photographs. The bush is dry and one could tell by the number of animal s along the river, needing water. Our highlight was standing on the Letaba high water bridge, watching the sunset, while thousands of red billed Quelea flocked back to their nests. These birds are the most numerous birds in the world and can be in flocks that number over a million birds, which could darken the sky. They are known as Africa’s avian locust, the dancing moves as they fly over is an admiring sight especially at sunset.
5 September 2017 - We woke up early to be out in the dawn light and cool air. What a great day, one of those days you don't forget. One of my highlights while driving slowly down the road, was a slender mongoose running in the road to a small road kill. The slender mongoose is common but shy, and normally very quickly disappears. This Morning as a little different, we could really watch him for some time, until a visitor appeared wanting to get in on the free meal, a Kori bustard. It was priceless finding these two species together. We watched the duo until they disappeared into the bush. The Kori Bustard is Africa’s heaviest flying bird with a weight of around 19kg, or 41.88 pounds. The day only got better, as we meandered through the African bush. We spent some time alone with a family of elephants that where extremely comfortable with our presence. We watched as they played and bonded with each other. We had some individuals come and get a real close look at us. I love watching animals, instead of having a tick list experience, it is when you watch animals that you learn of the great niches all creatures big and small play within a wild eco system like the Kruger National Park. Our day ended with a spectacular sight of a pride of lions, resting in and next to the road. It was around 12 lions, all resting together. It was a family group consisting of adult females and their sub adult young. Lions share great social bonds, we arrived just into the afternoon. This meant the temperature was cooling and one could visibly see the social bonds these cat share. They slowly started grooming and rubbing on each other, this is how these great cats re-establish bonds be tween on another. Our Safari ended on a great high note, and it left some great new wildlife moments and memories for the two of us. That would stay with us forever.
6 September 2017 - The northern safaris should be on any birders bucket list. The Kruger National Park has approximately over 500 different species of birds. In the North more than 85% of Kruger ’ s bird species can be found. I met with Mr. John Tannahill who was doing a safari on his own. We decided to make it a birding trip, and we were astonished at the amount of different birds we had found. Our list came to 326 different bird species. I enjoy birds, especially knowing after spending more than 15 years out here in the Kruger, there are certain bird species I still have not seen. There is not many places in the world that one can tick off 326 birds in 2 and a half days. We had some great highlights, and that is what you get surprised with when taking your time. We came across a mating pair of leopard, walking together. This was a great find, its this magnificent animal that so many people want to see, but do not get that opportunity. We spent the night at Mopani camp which overlooks the great pioneer dam. It is so different up here ecologically and geologically. Some of the species that are not so common throughout the park, like the great elephant tusker, tsessebe and array of bird.
8 September 2017 - Today I collect my 3 guests, Julian, Lotta and Leanne who's returning to us again for a 6 Day safari. We're staying our first night at river cottage in malelane, 15 minutes from malelane gate. After checking in we set off for an afternoon drive. It had been an incredibly hot day and thankfully it was cooling down so we set off around matjulu loop. Lots of kudus and zebras and some lovely Elephant sightings nice and close to the vehicle. The last hour in the park as the sun is setting gives a beautiful golden colour and is great for photography and Julian is a keen photographer so took plenty of great pictures. Leaving the park for Hamiltons as gate closing we spotted some hippos and crocodiles in the Crocodile River. After a great supper we headed back for an early night .
9 September 2017 - All of us up bright and breezy. Still a bit of a chill in the air bit looking like it's going to be a hot day with temperatures of 34° expected. We drove in the park, first ones through the gate and saw beautiful impalas, the females starting to look obviously pregnant with the lambs due in October. Our first sighting was 4 rhinos. Amazing to see and especially more lovely in the morning light. We sat for a while with them as they went far into the bush. We went onto the gravel road and saw some warthogs foraging in the ground and then a sighting of a 2m long black mamba crossing the road. Dwarf mongoose calling from their termite home basking in the sun. With the river on our right we drove slowly checking lions, there just as we turned the corner were at least 14 of them lying in the river bed, including cubs! Not long after we got there all of them including a big male stood up and walked a long the river bed and into the bush. A beautiful sighting. After breakfast we headed along the numbi tar road where we saw some nice giraffes and more kudus and impalas. We headed to numbi gate to collect 2 more guests Janis and Glen from Australia. After checking into Nkambeni camp my guests headed out on a sundowner drive where they saw elephants and of course enjoyed watching the sun go down with a glass (or 2) of Amarula. ...only in Africa.
10 September 2017 - Today we decided to see how the day went as it was very hot so potentially we'd come back to chill by the pool and then head out for a pm drive. We drove along napi road and lots of general game and then to my amazement I heard the first woodlands kingfisher indicating a long hot summer. Janis was very happy as she's a professional bird photographer. Hoting up so we headed to skukuza, that all changed when we came across 3 lions lying in the sun, getting up every now and then to find some shade. We sat for a long time just watching them. before heading off down watergat road, not more than 6 kms down and we came across a pack of 8 wild dogs lying in a strip of shade. Very lucky to see wild dogs. So now it's nearly lunch time and we haven't had a break yet so I thought we'd go to the golf club and then onto lake panic bird hide so we can just sit and watch the hippos and birds. Lunch was very welcomed and of course an ice cold drink! We set off to the bird hide parked up and as we all disembarked from the vehicle walking right there in the bushes walked a big male leopard. ...everybody back on the Vehicle!!! We watched him. head down to the waterhole so decided, when it was safe obviously to see if we could spot him...he didn't disappoint walking along the rivers edge before settling down under a bush! Amazing! Back to camp to cool off with more rhinos and general game on the journey back.
11 September 2017 - Today I say goodbye to 4 of my guests after a short morning drive with Leanne and I driving up to satara. After our goodbyes we drove to transport dam to see if there was anything interesting at the water. ..yes there was, elephants drinking and in a huge jackleberry tree was a leopard lying on the branch. Great stuff! A long drive ahead so we stocked up on cool drinks and nibbles. As incredibly hot as it was we saw some lovely zebras and giraffes also blue wildebeest. After checking in at satara camp we had a delicious supper before heading back for a good night's sleep and of course air con.
12 September 2017 - Lions! Lions! What an amazing way to start the day. Driving not more than 20 minutes from camp we found 3 lionesses with their 4 very cute cubs and were very privileged to be able to spend at least an hour with them A totally amazing sighting. Breakfast to feed our hunger after all the excitement and then we were off down to skukuza. After driving for half an hour we found a big male lion sitting under a bush looking incredibly hot. He didn't even move just sat there looking at us, it was as if he was to hot even to move an inch. Not more than 10 minutes away from him we found some more lionesses and yet more cubs. Wow! Lots of general game on our way down south and then looking in the sand river we saw 4 young lions that had just killed a giraffe. One was still holding the throat whilst the others seemed to be feeding. A kill is never nice to see but it is nature and the lions need to eat and it also controls the population of grazers and brows ing animals in the park. After checking into skukuza we decided to go and sit by a waterhole for an hour where we got hyenas lying in the water and playing followed by elephants drinking and the a mother and baby baboon...very sweet. What a great day.
13 September 2017 - Today was our last day so we drove slowly along Doispan road early and lovely Elephants and giraffes came to say goodbye to Leanne. A great safari with some memorable sightings and good company.
13 September 2017 - We entered the Park early, on what was shaping up to be a very hot day. Not long into our drive we encountered 3 Spotted Hyaena on the move. We also found plenty of fresh Lion tracks along the road and it was clear that they must be close by. As it turned out, they had killed a Buffalo shortly before and although slightly obscured by the dry bush, we managed to get some good views and sounds of the pride feeding on the carcass, as well as some of the cubs further back in a shady spot. One Lioness decided to look for shade behind a nearby rocky outcrop and came walking towards us, crossing the road right in front of our vehicle in order to get there; a great sighting! Incredibly, we encountered another lone Lioness in about 40 degrees, stalking Kudu in a riverbed. Although the wind was in her favour, the Kudu spotted her from a long way off and expressed their alert with their characteristic barking alarm call , prompting her to postpone the hunt and rather find a cool spot in the shade of a large granite boulder in the riverbed.
14 September 2017 - We entered the Park early again and made our way North along one of the main roads. It was a fairly quiet first hour or so, until we came across a Spotted Hyena den, with about 15 Hyena of different ages around the den enjoying the early sunshine . Several adults were actually moving away from the den site as if on their way to a food source. Cubs of different ages were left at the den, playing around or just basking. There was also one female nursing 2 smaller cubs - very nice to see so many of the clan out at the den! Later on we found 4 lioness in a riverbed, surrounded by a few hundred Vultures, as the Lions had killed a Giraffe a few days ago. We couldn't see what was left of the carcass, but evidently the Lions had had their fill and had a bit of digesting to do! Driving along the river, we also encountered several large breeding herds of Elephant with interesting interaction between the various herds and especially some of the bulls in musth not always appreciating each other's presence.. . Shortly before the end of our drive we had our first Leopard sighting of the Safari, when we found a young female lying at the base of a tree in which she apparently had a kill. Even though slightly obscured behind the tree, we could see her quite well from the right angle and she sat up at some point, giving us a better view before we had to get out of there; a great way to end the day!
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