See our new blog for May and June 2011

Day 34 Letaba (3 of 13) 14 May

Have you ever seen a Pedestrian sign in Kruger?

We left at 7am, took a drive to Mingerhout Dam.
On our way there we saw a small herd of Elephants with little ones.
Saw lots of Impala. There are plenty of bachelor males with young males; it is the start of the “Runting” season.
The group of bachelor males makes these grunting noise; they inhale air and then fart while snorting at the same time. They challenge the males who have lots of females so the poor male have to guard the ladies from all sides…he runs circles around them to keep the other males out and the ladies in so they do not stray to the bachelors, lots of fights among the males!
On our way back we took a small loop along the river, saw a Elephant lying in the side of the river…looked like he was in trouble, maybe he fell and could not get up, so we sat under a tree and watched him for a while. After 10min he then surprised us and got up, so much for Elephants not lying down! He stood eating grass from the river and then decided the water was too nice and flopped back on his side in the water with his head lying on the sand bank, very lazy indeed.
Got back to camp to have breakfast and I wanted to do some painting.
After breakfast Andrew decided to give it one more go to get the TV aerial working, after a while fiddling and moving it he got it right…we have reception! Watched the news and just saw Australia beat Pakistan.
As usual the Hyena is patrolling the fence hoping somebody will feed it.
One lone Elephant and a lone Buffalo outside the fence now feeding, we can hear the branches break and the buff moving around.

Elephant "sleeping" in the river

Mom and Little one

Andrew inherited the "Chinese" lamp

Day 32 and 33 Letaba (1 and 2 of 13) 12/13 May

Day 32 12 May

Packed up and left Balule at 06h45 with a wish to return next year for a 5 day stay. We will have to get a 12v freezer for the car which we should invest in anyway.
We arrived at Letaba at 07h45, found a great spot against the fence, under a huge tree, with plenty of shade.

23.85525 S
31.58067 E
Elev. 230.02m

Set up camp for a 13 night stay. I cannot get a satellite signal for DSTV as I cannot get a clear view of the sky, to many trees in the way. We will just have to go without news and sport for 2 weeks. Will have to watch the Stormers Bulls game at the TV room in camp, could be quite festive. There is only 2G at Letaba so internet will be a bit slow. So posts will be short. Hyaena patrolling the fence as usual.

Day 33 13 May

Slept late for a change, fiddled with satellite dish to try and get reception, no luck.
Took an afternoon drive to Phalaborwa to stock up on supplies, far too expensive at the park shops.
A cooler day with the temperature around 27 C

On the way back we ran into a pack of 8 Wild dogs on the Phalaborwa Letaba (H9) tar road about 10 Km from camp.
This is the highlight of our trip so far. The last time we saw Wild Dog in the park was at Lower Sabie way back in 2004. Victoria you will remember this as it was the time when you came with us.
Spent the afternoon photographing and watching their behavior patterns, got back to camp just in time before gates closed.

What a day!

Fence patrol
Our braai

Waiting and watching in front of our van at the fence

Our site at Letaba

Day 30 and 31 Balule May 10 and 11

New Co-ordinates
24.05352 S
31.73396 E

Arrived at Balule at 11h30 set up a shade awning,
Temperature peaked at 40,5 C

Afternoon drive to Olifants camp for diesel and ice.
Highlight of the drive was 2 Black Rhino on the Ngotso weir road (S89) as well as a single lioness in very poor condition.
Braai in the evening with G&T sundowners
What a fantastic camp, we lit the Chinese lantern and the little oil lamp for light.
This is great compared to Skukuza, absolute silence and no light pollution.
Had Hyena and Hippo walk within a few meters of us, only the fence separating us.
At last we could hear the bush and its symphony of sound, the aerie cry of the Hyena, snorting of the Hippo in the nearby river. No lion roars yet, maybe tonight.
It is a moonless, cloudless night and it felt as if you could touch the Milky Way.

Astronomically during May there is a rare and striking planetary configuration. At 20hoo in the evening Mars will be overhead, a distinct orange-red object, Mars will be extremely bright because it will be on the same side of the sun as we are, it will be sitting in front of the paws of the constellation of Leo. Track right or east and you will find Saturn, trailing Leo’s hind paw. If you are battling to see Leo look between Mars and Saturn, for there the Lion lies. Remember that it is upside down in the southern hemisphere.

On the 16 May only, just after sunset, look for the crescent moon in the west, there you will find Venus in all its brilliance. You might even be able to see it during the day.

Day 31 11 May

Early morning drive to Bangu along the S90 to see if we could see the King of Bangu, there are photographs of him at Balule, no luck.
Afternoon drive to Olifants for ice, temperature a bit cooler peaking at 38 C
Another great evening in camp, at last we heard lion roaring in the distance.

Kim and Quintin this Golden Orb spider had its web on the fence next to the van.

Our camp site at Balule sunrise in background

Day 28 and 29 Skukuza (11 and 12 of 15) 8/9 May

Did a short trip to Transport Dam via the S65 waterhole detoured to Renosterkoppies to see if the mating pair was still there. They were in exactly the same spot for 5 consecutive days. We added a spotted Hyaena to the master list, returned to camp for an afternoon of sport. What a game between the Crusaders and Bulls. The cricket was a drubbing by the English…..

Our new neighbors were Rick and Jane Millard from KZN, what a lovely Motorhome, thanks for showing us around, you have now got us thinking along the motorhome lines. Hope to see you in KZN.

Also arrived from Agullus in the Cape, Hans and Johanna. Thanks for the beers and good company around the camp fire, at least there was another Stormers supporter amongst all the Sharks. Hope you sort your fridge out; we will definitely visit when we are in that area. When you come to Cape Town give us a call you have our email.

Found two nights available at Balule for 10 and 11 May and decided to take this, leaving Skukuza 2 days early. Balule is a very small rustic camp, only 10 sites on the banks of the Olifants River, co-ordinates to follow, no electricity, so we will be running on 12V, not a problem as we have gas and Battery, and will use the communal freezer for the 2 days. We won’t have DSTV and the battery life of my laptop is 2 hours so we won’t be Blogging until we get to Letaba on Wednesday 12 May.
Baluli is only 30Km from Letaba which puts us at Letaba early to secure a site at the fence.
Skukuza has been great, but it is too big and commercialized, it gets very busy and noisy over weekends. Last year we said we would give Skukuza a miss for the same reasons, and what do we do, book for 15 nights.

BLOG NOTE: DO NOT BOOK SKUKUZA FOR 2011 or ever again.

We took the Maroela loop for an early morning drive, nothing much to report. Returned for breakfast and slowly packed up, took down the awnings and the Add-a-Room ready for an early morning start.
Temperature hovering in the mid 30’s every day, cooling off in the pool regularly.

Baluli is 130 Km away at a speed limit of 50Kph will take us 3 to 4 hours with a bit of game viewing included.

I am trying to find the right shot for “Spot and Identify the Animal no 3” and will post this when we get connected again.

Lettie thanks all of you for the Mothers day good wishes.
Also thanks to all of you following us around the world.

Nerina in Italy, we miss you so much, especially the food at Little Italy, any advise for us on bread making.
Love to Raffie and Gaby. How are they doing at school in Italy?

Bert in Holland, we hope to meet up with you again in Kruger, you can give us some lessons on taking those magnificent photos that you do.

Till Wednesday

Andrew and Lettie.