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Kruger Park Diary – August ‘06

Safariman

UK
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Safariman Basic Member
Wed 16-Jan-08 01:28 PM

In August last year my family consisting of myself, my wife and our three children (between the ages of 1 & 6!) travelled back to our native South Africa. There we were joined by a family friend on a eight day, seven night trip to the Kruger National Park, a place which should be familiar to frequent Nikonian browsers on the Wildlife forum . It has taken me until now to start seriously editing the photos I took on that trip, but I thought that in true Nikonian style I would post a slightly belated photo diary . I have attempted to be as accurate as possible and have gone to great lengths to describe the routes we travelled in the hope that this may be of use to any Nikonians planning future trips to the Kruger Park, but if there are any mistakes please forgive me. So without further ado here is my;

Kruger Park Diary – August ‘06

Day 1 –

After a long drive from Johannesburg, we arrive at the Malelane Gate only to discover it is shut for half an hour while the guard on duty checks with head office whether he can allow some day visitors to enter. This entails him walking the half a mile back to the main office on foot and leaves about 15 cars stewing at the gate, many of whom still have a long trip ahead of them to get to their camps.

When the gate finally reopened the booking office is overwhelmed and can’t cope with the number of people.

Despite having planned enough time to get to camp, we are now running very late and it is a race against the clock to get to camp before the gates close at sunset. We take the main H3/H1-1 route from Malelane gate up to Skukuza. From there we cross the Sabi River at the low level bridge and take the H1-2/H1-3 all the way up to Satara where we are spending our first night. This is a journey of +-180km and should take three and a half hours at the maximum speed limit of 50km/h. The ideal speed for game spotting is between 15 & 25km/h especially considering the thick thorn scrubveld that typifies much of the Kruger habitat. We have just under four hours to do the journey in, and that does not take into account any stops for viewing game.

With darkness setting in we notice the number of vehicles on the road decreasing rapidly. As we come round a corner a leopard leaps up from the side of the road where it had been napping and darts into the bush We stop for a minute to see if there is a photo op to be had, but he has slunk into the tall grass, so we quickly resume our race against the clock.

When we are still a few miles out from camp and it is just on gate closing time, we come round a long sweeping bend to find two enormous bull elephants looming out of the dusk in the middle of the road. We slow to an abrupt halt and the elephants, obviously not expecting us at this time of day, flap their ears and swat their trunks nervously. We spend five minutes waiting, as the elephants have decided that the road belongs to them and show no sign of vacating their territory. Eventually they move off into the bush and we resume our journey. We arrive in Satara just after gate closing time, but avoid the almost inevitable fine by explaining what had happened at Malelane Gate. Apparently we hadn’t been the only ones affected and we get away with it.

We start unpacking, then go for the organised late night drive which turns out to be a complete flop. It is very cold and the animals are seeking shelter deep in the bush. I guess four out of the Big Five in our first day isn't too bad .

Later on we lie in bed enjoying listening to the lions roaring in the distance and the hyenas cackling round the camp. We get to sleep late…

Spotted;
Mammals - Impala, Zebra, White Rhino, Warthog, Bushbuck, Hippo, Giraffe, Elephant, Leopard, enormous herd of Cape Buffalo(500+), Lesser Spotted Genet, Steenbok, Blue Wildebeest.
Birds - Longtail Shrike, Grey Heron, Yellowbill-Hornbill, Nightjar, Saddlebill Stork
Other - Nile Crocodile

African Sunrise.
Female Giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis) Silhouetted Against A Perfect Kruger Park Sunrise
D200
70-200 F2.8 AFS VR
F8 @1/6400
ISO 800
Beanbag

Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)

Safariman
Let Nature Get Close To You.
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