See our new blog for May and June 2011

Best Day of trip

I have been asked which day stands out on our trip.

All the days were special but the one that really stands out was Day 73 June 22

Read it again and you will see why.

Kgalagadi trip has been cancelled.
Our daughter is expecting, due on the 13 Sept the day we were supposed to return, with no cell phone coverage at Grootkolk or Nossob we have decide to postpone it to next year.

Next Trip

We depart Cape Town 2 September 2010 for 8 nights

Twee Rivieren 3/9/2010
Grootkolk 4+5/9/2010
Nossob 6+7/9/2010
Kieliekrankie 8+9+10/9/2010

The count down has started

Home safe and final cost update

The pages have been updated with the fuel and site costs

We travelled a total of 11565 Km at a fuel cost of R8608-
We were away for 95 nights at a cost of R14643-

Total cost excluding food which we would have had at home anyway

Great value for money compare this to a 2 week overseas trip for 2 with airfare and accommodation.
Another way of looking at it is to say that R14000 accommodation cost would have only got you 7 to 10 Days in a Hotel for 2 people or 20 to 25 days in a B&B

Till next year

Andrew and Lettie

Final Blog Post

The last couple of days of our holiday will be spent in very much the same way. We are leaving on Monday 12 July to take our caravan back to storage in Nelspruit where we will spend the day cleaning the caravan, fridge etc as well as disconnecting the battery and emptying the water tanks. we should leave Nelspruit around midday and should be back in Cape Town on Wednesday. I will update the fuel and accommodation costs when we are back for those interested.

We want to thank everyone who has followed us on our travels and commented. We hope you have enjoyed our trip with us as much as we have. We hope to meet up with all of you again.
To all the wonderful people we have met and our neighbours who have camped next to us at various times, we hope to see you again at some time in Kruger, thanks for the fun we have had and the exchanges of sightings around the camp fire. We have booked Lower Sabie for May 2011 and Satara for June 2011. I know that the "Vrystaters" and the Retiefs will be there at the same time. To the Sanparks Forum members around the world thanks for watching. we know that many of you were following in the background from reports by members we met, proudly displaying the "Yellow Ribbon".
To the Sanparks staff we have met, the attendants, reception, shops we have only received excellent service well done.
Our Family and our pooch, we will see you soon, we miss all of you.

Our routine for the next couple of days.
At about 08h30 head for the Spa, Sauna and bathe in the Hot Water Spa.
After that head for the main warm pool, do a couple of lengths (short).
Brunch and then play putt- putt, bowls or something less strenuous.
We are in the heart of the citrus growing area and have visited some farms where we have bought some goodies like dried fruit, canned tomatoes in various flavours, and some Atchars.
Bags of Oranges, Naartjies and Avo's for R1-00 3 times the size of the ones you get at home.

Activities for kids Spoon race in yellow arena

The sign says "Happy Days"
"B & B 4 the Birds"

See how some of the campers decorate and plant flowers. these people come and spend the 4 months of winter here and make themselves very comfortable. We have seen lounge suites, office desks with computers and printers, display cabinets, full double beds, large flat screens in the caravans side tents, all this for R1500 which is the monthly rate including lights and water, sewerage and rubbish removal

Last of the Photos taken in Kruger for 2010

Hyaena looking at hole in fence

Dwarf Mongoose scavenging around our van.

Honey Badger next to our site, note hole in fence.

Day 86 Eiland Spa (1 of 7) July 5, 2010

New Co-ordinates
S 23.66066
E 30.67151

Elev. 510.45m

Happy Birthday Lettie

It was no point in leaving to early for the Eiland as we could only check in after 12h00 and it was only a 2-hour drive from Maroela. I went to the service station to get the tyres pumped, on the way back I spotted two Wild dogs. Rushed back to fetch Lettie and followed the dogs for a while. At last, we have seen the Dogs that everyone has been seeing around Maroela. Hooked up the caravan at about 09h30 and headed for the gate.
Just outside the gate right next to the road, lay a Buffalo carcass, which had been partly eaten, apparently Lions caught it during the night; Vultures were now all over the carcass.
What an exciting last night and morning in the park, it is like golf, just when you think you have had enough something happens that brings you back again and again. I already can’t wait for next year.

Arrived at Eiland Spa at about 12h30 to be greeted by Corrie and Leonora who guided us to our site no A67. What a great private site we have. Set up camp for a 7 day stay.
On arrival our booking was handled very efficiently, They already knew the colour, make and Registration number of my car, in minutes I was booked in.
The ablutions are fantastic and the showers are better than my own home.
We all went to the restaurant to celebrate Letties Birthday.
There is a lot to do here, 3 big swimming pools at different temperatures including an indoor Hydro. Tennis, Squash, Mini Golf, Golf, Table Tennis, Horse Riding, Pool.
For the kids there are trampolines, a super tube and entertainment all day.
We will explore it fully tomorrow.

Day 84 and 85 Maroela (11+12 of 12) July 3 & 4

Lions had taken this buff during the night, it lay just outside Orpen gate outside the park.

Day 85

Happy Birthday Kim

Went out early we had coffee at Bobbejaankrans where we heard a Leopard coughing in the riverbed, we spotted it on the opposite bank and were happy to share it with a group of overseas tourists who arrived.
The Jeep Jockey told us that they had seen the Wild Dog on the way in this morning.
Returned to camp to pack and get ready to leave tomorrow.
We had an exciting evening with the Honey Badger arriving early allowing us to take some close ups of him/her. Lettie stayed well clear this time. We also heard a Leopard cough repeatedly very close by. Fish and chips for our last evening at Maroela.

Day 84

Decided to take a last long drive before we leave, traveled down the tar towards Satara
Turned onto the Girivani road onto Timbavati for breakfast and returned to camp via Satara straight down the tar. General game no cats spotted.
We did a leg of lamb with roast potatoes in the stainless steel braai, turned out fantastic, yum yum.

Day 83 (10 of 12) July 2

Woke to a wet morning with a light drizzle, we decided to stay in camp, paint a bit and do some admin, pay accounts etc., what follows is some interesting shots taken at different times. I spy with my big eye

Interesting pose and grandkids see the ring on his bum where he sat on the toilet before the paint had dried.

Nyala seen near Orpen, they are common from Letaba north but a mega tick in the south.

The biggest bird

And a small chick

Interesting photo of the Rhino taken at the end of April and one taken in the same area at the end of May. Note how the grass has dried out in a month.

Have a look at spot the animal page, it has a new post.

Day 82 (Maroela 9 of 12) July 01

Lions roaring very close by woke us at 04h 00. The moon was bright and we got up to see if we could see them. We stood there in the chill and listened as they roared, what a thrill, it made me wonder how prehistoric man must have felt when the King roared. It is the most spine chilling sound, the faintest roar will wake me from the deepest sleep.
Up early waiting for the gate to open so that we could see if we could find them. Traveled along the tar and found them about a Km from the turn off to camp, 5 of them crossed the road walking in a southerly direction, they were walking with a mission. It was still to dark for any decent photo and out of sight within 5 min.

Turned onto the Rabelais road and spotted a Serval cat crossing the road. This is a new addition to our mammal list, which takes our number to 44 total and 28 for Kruger. (see mammals page)
Continued on to Rabelais dam for coffee (we have run out of rusks, not bad planning as we have only 5 days to go)
Returned to Orpen so that we could be within Cell phone range, to make our bookings with Sanparks for next year June, which opened today at 07h30. Booked Satara for the whole month of June 2011, done!
Went to the Rabelais turn off and back again, at exactly the same spot where we saw the Lion we saw a Rhino on the way out and a herd of Buffalo on the way back.
Wild dog were spotted again this morning, but they are being seen outside the KNP between Orpen Gate and the far gate (Timbavati control gate).
81 days and seen the backside of a one Cheetah, where are the Sable? This is the first trip that we have not seen Sable.
We had breakfast in camp this morning. Brekkies was French toast, Anchoviette Toast and coffee.

Weather turned nasty…overcast with slight drizzle and windy.
Did some cleaning, cleaned the inside of the caravan, washed floor and dusted.
Out of camp by 4:30pm, drove at a snails pace on tar road. At about 3km from camp we saw cars had stopped. Got to the spot and saw a leopard with a warthog in its mouth dragging it back towards where we came from. We must have missed the chase by seconds as the Warthog was still kicking.

We turned around and followed it for a while. Lost sight of it so we drove slowly on, hoping we will see it again when we saw an elephant a few paces away right next to the road in a small dip. Stopped to take a photo of it while it was eating grass.

After a few minutes we saw the leopard walking towards the elephant with the warthog in its mouth, the elephant got a fright and chased the leopard up a small tree. The leopard was balancing on a thin branch when suddenly it lost grip of the warthog, the warthog and leopard fell to the ground. It was funny.
He/she then sat under the tree licking the warthog getting ready to have a feast.
We had to leave after a while as it was now getting dark and the gates were closing at 5:30pm.

We saw the big 5 in one day, only the second time while we are here, and that was on the 3Km stretch from Orpen gate to the Rabelais turn off
Supper was chicken lasagna, and homemade bread. Watched the Tennis on DSTV, a change from the soccer.
This is what happens when a cat is spotted.
Reg no.
HGP 832 NW

Day 81 (Maroela 8 of 12) June 30

We decided to stay out all day.
Took the tar road to Satara, Coffee and what is left of the rusks at Bobbejaankrans.

Mom with chicklets feeding near us while we were having our morning coffee.
Turned south onto the S36 hoping to spot Sable.
At Rockvale waterhole, we found a small pride of Lion, to far for decent photo’s and to lazy and inactive to keep us interested for long.
Quick pit stop at Muzandzeni before taking on the Sweni again, as reported earlier this road, once our favorite, is dead. We have now tried it early, mid morning and late with little to report.
Headed on the tar towards N”wanetsi, Lions at Shishangani, again to far and inactive.

Immature Bateleur
After breakfast we did the S100 which had been so good to us while we were at Satara.
The biggest herd of Elephant I have seen on this trip crossed the road in front of us heading for the river. No excitement of an Elephant charging us on this trip, yet.

Returned via Girivana to Maroela. A long day in the saddle.

Braai with pap and train smash for din dins.

Day 80 Maroela (7 of 12) June 29

Hippo yawning trying to intimidate the elephants

Water in s h 1 t out

Are these perhaps twins?

Has anybody any idea why Zebras are being collard, saw this one on the Orpen-Satara tar rd.
We decided to lay-in an extra half an hour this morning and what happens, their is a Leopard at the gate preventing the staff from opening the gate on time.
We travelled down the tar and completed the Rabelais loop returning to Maroela for breakfast and to do some maintenance, fixed the table and replaced a rivet in a chair. Must be the weight increase due to good food and atmosphere and a lack of exercise.
Lettie went to Orpen to do a load of washing.
In the afternoon we did the same loop but in a different direction.Had fish and rice with a fruit salad and custard as dessert (Capetonians can't go long without fish)

Day 79 (Maroela 6 of 12) June 28

I heard the dustbins being pushed over early this morning. I decided to go outside and see if I could take a photo of the Honey Badger. Grabbed Andrew’s camera and waited near the exit hole in the fence. The young boys next door then told me he/she is coming with a packet in its mouth towards the escape hole. I took a photo but the flash did not work. Now the Badger was out and I had no photo! I asked the young boy to light the path to our car so I could get my camera out. The youngest of the boys had not seen the badger before and told me he was excited but also scared when he saw it for the fist time.
Got the camera, boys went back to their caravan and I decided to wait for the Badger to come back. Looked at my cell and saw that it was 1am in the morning!Luckily the moon was up and shining bright so I was not totally in the dark waiting for the badger to return. After about 10min I heard the dustbin next to our caravan being raided…walked slowly towards our screen wall, took a photo, then he/she saw me and charged me! Well this “Oumie” turned tail and ran to our caravan a few steps away…jeez! That was close. Andrew woke up and wanted to know what is going on with all the noise I was making getting back into the van. Told him about the Badger chasing me, both of us had a good giggle. Back in bed, we could hear it was still going about pushing dustbins over, looking for scraps. If there are any cartoonists out there, this scene would make a great cartoon, picture the scene, bright moonlit night, Oumie in her pajamas, hightailing it for the caravan with the badger in hot pursuit

Day 77 and 78 (Maroela 4&5 of 12) June 26/27

Day 77 (Maroela 4 of 12) June 26

Did not go out today…stayed in camp. Watched the Rugby, Cricket and Soccer.

Day 78 (Maroela 5 of 12) June 27

Left at 7am said goodbye to Paul & Isabel as they are leaving for Skukuza.
We took a slow drive down the tar road towards the Timbavati sand road. Weather has turned foul and the wind is blowing strong forcing us to have breakfast in our car. Returned via Girivane, saw a herd of Buffalo still lying down. Went past Rabelais to see if we could spot Cheetah and Wild dog, maybe tomorrow.
Potjiekos and dumplings for supper tonight.
Photo opportunities have dried up a bit after Satara, but we still have a week to go.

Day 76 (Maroela 3 of 12) June 25

Set the alarm to get out of camp early, we want to try and see the Wild dogs and the Cheetah that have been spotted near Maroela camp.
Oh dear…the Honey Badger was at it again!. We saw it got hold of a bag with rubbish in and dragged it outside the fence.
Took a very slow drive down the Rabelais road, then back onto the tar to try and spot the Cheetah that have been seen in that area.
Stopped at Bobbejaankrans lookout to have our morning coffee. While having our coffee we heard a Lion roar in the distance, looked through our binoc’s but could not spot the Lion, it kept on roaring as it got closer, but still we could not see Lion as there were lots of trees and bushes down below.
Two Jeep-Jockeys arrived, lots of noise and walking around, so we decided to carry on. Saw a herd of Buffalo near the lookout point.
Took the road towards Muzandzeni picnic spot to try and see some Sable, no luck.
The road to Muzandzeni was quiet, animals still lying down resting.
After breakfast took a slow drive back to camp, again very little animals around.
Got back to camp, saw that the bag with the rubbish was still lying outside the fence. Andrew then took a long tent pole and managed to gather the rubbish back towards the hole in the fence, collected it and disposed it back into the dustbin. Hope we will not find more rubbish outside the fence.

Day 75 (Maroela 2 of 12) June 24

The resident Honey Badger is causing havoc in the camp after hours. He/she is raiding the dustbins. We woke up to find the camp littered with the rubbish from the dustbins.
There is small hole under the fence where he/she gets in and out, the hole have been closed with rocks, but it still manages to dig the rocks out to get in.
Decided to go Hoedspruit to do our monthly shopping. I also had a much needed haircut.
We seem to be missing out on seeing the Wild dogs that have been roaming around the Orpen area. They were seen just outside the exit gate. Hopefully we will see them before we leave the park.

Day 74 (Maroela 1 of 12) June 23

New Co-ordinates
S 24.45580
E 31.39934
Elevation 436.2 m

Arrived at Maroela at o7h30 we found a great spot right against the fence, set up our rally to within 1 meter of the fence. completely private.
Surprised that there were quite a few spots open as the bookings show the camp is full.
A complete change from Satara, small, quiet, no shop or restaurant and the campers themselves choosing to camp at Maroela rather than bigger camps having a different attitude to the Kruger.
The ablutions are great with very hot water and the showers bigger than other camps where you had to get back into the shower to open the door.
Another bonus is that I have 3G for much quicker connection to the internet, since we left Skukuza we have been on 2G which is so so slow.

Spent the rest of the day in camp admiring the view into the riverbed from our caravan.
Plenty to see. Baboons are a problem, I had to get my broomstick out and chase a troop raiding camp. Keeps me fit and shows my masculinity defending the species, I will rather have that than stressing out in the city traffic and crime.

Day 73 (Satara 30 of 30) June 22

Last day at Satara, left early to do the S100 for the last time this year and was it special.
Traveling along the S100 next to the Nwanedzi River at just after 7am, Lettie spotted a Lioness in the distance walking towards us, when she was about 80 meters from the river she let out a soft call and out of the riverbed on the other side of our car came running five nervous but healthy Lion cubs

They ran to their mother obviously extremely happy to see her after spending the night alone hidden in the riverbed. In typical Lion fashion, they rubbed faces together

The Lioness immediately lay down and let them suckle for a few minutes giving them some warm milk and sustenance on a cold morning, it was still about 5°C. After drinking their fill they did their toilet routine,
she got up and started moving, leading them away from us to rejoin the rest of the pride.
She had obviously fed that night, as her stomach was full and round.

As I watched her disappearing into the distance with the cubs following and playing, tripping each other, play stalking and all the mischievous things young lions do, I reflected on what magnificent creatures these were.
What communication and how took place when she left them in the riverbed to go hunting, how did they know not to follow and be quiet not to attract other predators?
Why did they respond to her call and come out of hiding to feed, how did they know it was their mother?
How did she know where she left them and how did she navigate back to the exact spot?
Was she leading them to a kill she made during the night, how far was it, how does she know her way back?
Was she going to let them feed on the kill with all its dangers?
We sat there alone in the early morning sunshine, at one with nature and all its surprises.
It is scenes and experiences like this that make us do what we are doing and renew our e
enthusiasm to return every year and stay as long as we can.
Returned to camp to clean and pack up
It is not a good idea to park under a tree, after 30 days every bird in the area must have shat on my rally tent and add-a-room. It took me most of the afternoon to wash it off and let it dry.
We moved the caravan to allow a young couple to set up on our site, which they had been eyeing for some time and approached us when they saw us packing up.
As is custom on the last night at a camp we went to the Restaurant for supper. Watched the Soccer, fantastic first half, why can’t they play like that all the time and for 90 minutes?
Satara is a great all action camp, plenty of game, people, cars, yet it has its quiet and peaceful times as well. Looking forward to Maroela, a much smaller quieter camp.

DAY 72 (SATARA 29 of 30) JUNE 21

Our second last day at Satara, moving to Maroela on Wednesday.
Out early again 06:h00 to go to Girivane. Arrived at Girivane, only the Baboons were in the tree, so no Lions or Leopard as they will let you know if they are nearby.
Carried on towards the Timbavati picnic spot, turned back to the tar road on our way back to camp. We decided to try and see if we could see the herd of Buffalo’s on the S90. At the same spot as yesterday they came crossing the road in their hordes. Easily +500 strong.
Decided to go back to camp for breakfast. A few klm away from camp we saw this White Rhino mother with her calf. He/she was too cute!

Further down the road we saw a Southern Reedbuck…at last we can add another mammal to our master list!

Went out to Girivane again this afternoon. Sat there till the last minute hoping to see the Leopard, but no go.
The International Space Station came over Satara camp at 18:29. It is the second time we saw it over Kruger Park. Amazing that a lot of people around us here did not know about this and some children thought it was a satellite.

DAY 71 (SATARA 28 OF 30) JUNE 20

Got an early start, decided to do the S90 to see if we could see the 2 male Lions. A herd of Buffalo crossed the road, this female had her own grass necklace on

This little family of Swainsons were sunning themselves in the road.

This Zebra posed for us

Turned onto the S41 and found 2 male Lions a few km from Gudzani east water hole.
They were too far in the bush to take photos.
A while later, on the same road, we found 6 Lions feeding on a Giraffe. Also battled to take photos as there was a major traffic jam. Managed a few photos

The young males in the pride

Decided to go and have breakfast as it was now nearly 12pm!
Stopped to see if the Lions were still feeding on the small Elephant. The 2 males were still feeding and defending the carcass against the vultures, who by now were all sitting in a tree nearby.

Wow 3 Lions sightings in a mornings drive on the same road!