Tuesday, April 27, 2010

KNP Day 5 – Punda Maria, Thulamela

10 April 2010

From my research online, I thought the Thulamela tour started at 9am. As it turned out when we checked in, the tour started at 6am! I was not popular!

We were at the reception area by 5.45am, as instructed by reception! The guide arrived at about 6.05am and said they were still waiting for the other guide, whose truck was used on the tour. He arrived at about 6.20am. Again – I was not popular!

It was just Brian and I on the tour, which was really good – we got quite personal attention. We left and took the following roads to get to the Thulamela sight: H13-2 to S60 – H1-8 to S64. I realise that the staff are allowed to travel faster than regular visitors, but it doesn’t make for a comfortable ride in an open air Landover to be travelling at 60km/h! We arrived at the sight at about 7.30am. There are very crude long drop toilets before you start the walk up. The first one I went to – as I opened the toilet seat a cloud of mosquitoes flew up – I was not prepared to use that loo, as I hadn’t put citronella on my bum! I used the “men’s” as their toilet seat had not been closed!

The walk up to the top of the hill probably took about 45 mins. It’s a beautiful climb, but we didn’t have many sightings of game – a few waterbuck and kudu, that’s all. When you get to the top you are briefed on the history of the place and the structures your are about to see. The baobab that you sit on while they talk to you is about 3000 years old! That just blew me away!!

The sight itself is very interesting – the graves of the 2 excavated, but returned, skeletons, the reconstructed walls, the sharpening stones, the artefacts. It’s all explained and intriguing. The view was what really got me! It’s just such a spectacular location! After about another 45 mins we headed back down to the vehicle. As we were leaving I asked if it was possible for us to go to Crook’s Corner. As it was just the 2 of us, I think it was a bit easier to convince the guides.We have a beautiful drive along the Levhuvu River valley to Crook’s Corner, which was completely in flood. Even the guide was surprised at the amount of water! We had some time to enjoy the view. On our way back we stopped at the Pafuri Border post which was good to have seen, but nothing really special. Although I did have an interesting frog on the window in the ladies bathroom.

We then went back to Punda Maria and were back at the camp by 9.30am. All in all a worth while trip.

We saw: Impala, Kudu, waterbuck, Nyala, Baboon, Zebra, Warthog, Long-tailed Starling, Batleur Eagle, Elephant, Buffalo, Crested Guinea fowl.

We decided that a nap was in order and we both slept for about 2 hours!

KNP Day 4 Mopani – Punda Maria

9 April 2010

We left Mopani about 9am. We drove the following route to get to Punda Maria and stopped at Shingwedzi for Lunch.

The H1-6 to S144 (Old Main Road Loop) to H1-6 to S52 (Red Rocks Loop – we didn’t do all of it) to H1-7 til the S58 (Dzundzwini Loop) to H13-1 to Punda Maria Camp.

Today we saw: Giraffe, Elephant Bull, Steenbok, Zebra, Tawny Eagle, Impala, Breeding herd of elephant, Fish Eagle, pair of Saddle-billed Storks, Hammerkop, Green-backed heron, Slender Mongoose, Cape Vulture, Goliath Heron, Grey heron, Vervet Monkeys, Baboon, Waterbuck in the Shingwedzi River, Buffalo wallowing, Common Duiker, Warhogs, Kudu, Crocodile and Secretary birds.

It was another long day’s drive.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Sunset Drive that couldn’t…

Well so much for hoping to see good stuff on the sunset drive. We had 3 hours of driving around the same loop we did this morning, with even less interesting sightings!

The best sighting was a steenbok female. She was really cute. We also saw a bushbuck and possibly a genet. Other wise we saw impala, waterbuck and elephant. We saw a few birds: Tawny Eagle Owl, blacksmith lapwing, white stork, marsh owl, Spotted Eagle Owl, dikkop and roosting guinea fowl.

It was not what I was hoping for, but at least I still have 4 more days in the park. The good sightings are hopefully still out there for me!

KNP Day 3

We were up at 5am again. We managed to get organised enough to be 5 in line waiting at the gate. As we stopped the guard opened the gate. The one problem we had today was that we hadn’t filled up with petrol, so we were kinda limited to a short drive.

We headed North up the H1-6 tar road and turned off to do the Tropic of Capricorn Loop (S144 – S143 – S50 – S49 – H1-6).

Sightings today include: a pair of Saddle-billed Stork, Ground hornbills, Marabou stork, Little Sparrow-hawk, Impala, European Roller, Black backed Jackal, Buffalo, Elephants, Blue Wildebeest, Waterbuck and White Stork.

The BBJ was in front of us on the road for about 500m. He would lope along, smell the sides of the road, check us out and then carry on. The buffalo held us up for a good 45 mins. They were all over the road and Brian was a little worried about moving too close to them. We did eventually edge our way through.

We’ve just finished brunch and we’re having a little chill time. Tonight we’re going on the Sunset Drive. We’re hoping we’ll get to see some really cool things!

KNP Day 2

April 7 2010 – Satara

We were up at 5am to get ready for a morning drive. We managed to get out of camp at 6.10am.

We headed North on the tar road towards the Ntomeni Road (S127), stopped for brekkie at Timbavati Picnic site and then followed the S40 back to the H7 tar road. We could only do a short loop as we needed to check out. As it was we were just less than half an our late checking out.

On this drive we saw Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, White-Headed Vultures, a Martial Eagle, Kudu, White-Backed vultures, Burchell’s Coucal and a common duiker.

We then headed to Mopani on the following roads: H1-3, S90, S92 and then stopped in Olifants for lunch. From Olifants we took the S93 to the S46 to the tar H1-6, straight to Mopani. We got into camp about 5.15pm.

We saw on this drive: Elephant, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Giraffe, a Koorhaan, Magpie shrikes, Lesser Grey Shrike, European roller, Flappet Lark, Goliath Heron, Hippos, Saddle-billed Stork, African Fish Eagle, Forktailed Drongo, Marabou Stork, Waterbuck, pair of Secretary Birds, Leopard Tortoise.

We’re starting to feel like there are no predators in the park. We’re really hoping for some good sighting tomorrow.

For dinner we had rice mixed with leftovers from the braai last night. It ended up tasting quite good.

Kruger National Park Day 1

I write you now sitting on the veranda of our BD2V unit at Satara. Circle G number 168. We’re probably about 20 meters from the fence :D It’s very hot and humid. I am updating you on our day while I sip a Sarita and nibble on cheese and crackers!

We packed up the last few things this morning and departed from Marloth Park around 8.15am. It was drizzling again, as it had been for the last few days. We saw some guinea fowl crossing the road and few zebra, but that was about it in Marloth. The drive to Malelane gate was uneventful. We couldn’t go the Crocodile Bridge route as the river was flooded from all the rain.

We arrived at Malelane gate around 9.30am. EcoJunkie was working the gate so I had my first Forumite sighting. We had to wait on the bridge before we entered the park for about half an hour. Registering went well and was pretty quick. Although their card machines were not working for debit cards and they could only accept credit cards.

Our route was pretty straight without any detours today – we had a long day to get from Malelane Gate to Satara. We took the H3 to it’s junction with the H1-1 and continued on that until we got to Skukuza. We stopped at Skukuza for a quick rest stop and then carried on on the H1-2 until we got to Tshokwane where we stopped for lunch. I had a the kuduwors roll and Brian had the kuduwors, pap and sheba. We both really enjoyed our lunch. From Tshokwane we followed the H1-3 all the way to Satara.

Our sightings in order of seeing the first one were as follows: Kudu doe, impala, Chameleon (crossing the road), 2 White rhino fighting for territory, an elephant with tusks, 3 ground hornbills, a large warthog, lilac breasted roller, leopard tortoise (the first of 4 we helped get across the road safely), steenbok, a tiny baby terrapin, zebra, hippo (just the eyes and nostrils), grey heron, black stork, woolly-necked stork, marabou stork, water buck, egyptian geese, giraffe, hyena (only I saw this when I looked back and it loped across the road). From our deck we saw an Impala buck and a warthog, we’re hoping for more sightings tonight.

That’s our day for today. More tomorrow :)

Wedding post still being worked on

I’ll post the details of the wedding when I’m back. I feel like I should rather update on Kruger as we go :)

The drive to Kaapsche Hoop, Mpumalanga

We left just after 8am. The drive was pretty uneventful!

We always stop at the Shell Ultra City in Escourt for the best pork pies. It was as good as always. From there we followed the N3 to Ladysmith where we turned onto the N11.

Lunch was at the Newcastle Wimpy. The service here is fantastic and very quick.

From there is was pretty straight forward driving til we got past Volksrust. Then we hit the ry/go’s, the coal trucks and the rain! ALL at the same time.

We eventually got to the turn off to Kaapsche Hoop at around 5pm. It is a spectacular 12km climb up the mountain. The rain was still coming down, but it just added to the moodiness of the place.

Our home for the next 2 nights was Room 18 at Silver Mist Country Inn. As the woman who checked us in described it – the honeymoon suite… almost. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Who we are and why we're here....

Binkie is Bianca, a travel agent from Durban.
Brain is Brian, a geek from Durban.

We've been dating for just over a year and we're setting off on an adventure through Kruger National Park.

Binkie will be doing most of the posting on the blog. And I probably should have started blogging a little before we started this journey. But we're a few says in already.

We attended one of Brain's friend's wedding in Kaapsche Hoop, Mpumalanga. More to follow shortly. We're spending 2 days in Marloth Park with Brain's parents and then we're off to Kruger for a week of truly South African touring!

It's pouring with rain, so I decided to start a blog - there's not a whole lot of sightseeing happening in the rain!