Time to go to the Gamerezoo again!
  • Day14

    Change of plan: Letaba to Kokanje

    May 23 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Yesterday I started with a sore throat and the big meal we had at Olifants set POps' tummy off, so we were in bed before 8. That meant we woke about 5 and couldn't go back to sleep. We both felt under the weather so decided to pack up and go home. We were out of there by 06h13!
    It was foggy and miserable all the way to Phalaborwa, so we saw nothing - EXCEPT just outside Letaba a pack of hyena with little dark pups and about 10 km from the Phalaborwa gate a pack of wild dogs! What a way to end a trip!
    We were concerned that a female hyena was injured by the way she was lying so we called the emergency number and a sleepy voice said "I'll call the ranger." Whether he ever did we'll never know. She seemed to be the apha female as the pups were all bouncing around her.
    And seriously we saw not another animal in all 48 kms 'cos of the mist.
    Left Phalaborwa about 08h30 and headed for Tzaneen. Since we weren' t going to stay there we decided to check out Magoebaskloof Hotel. Of course we got lost a few times trying to find the R71; it's a much better road than the R528 but it seemed longer. The hotel looked nice - it will have to wait for another day.
    We got home about 13h30, so it was a long day's drive. A sleep was definitely called for!
    It's always nice to be home - I will see the doc tomorrow morning...
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  • Day13

    Letaba Day 3

    May 22 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    So we woke at 6 with cars going out to see what they could see. We thought to drive to Olifants and have lunch there, so we did.
    Drove the gravel road past Engelhard dam. This time we saw water in the dam, so yesterday's picture is OF the dam - we were above not below the wall!
    Special today was spotting a Sharpe's grysbok. No leopard and no kori bustards :-(
    We did get saddle-billed stork and spur-wing goose. We sat for about half an hour watching hundreds of vultures soaring around and coming in to land in the bush about 50 m from us. They were coming in from miles around - there was either a big convention or a carcass but we couldn't see, hear or smell anything. Most frustrating.
    Lunch at Olifants on the deck was nice (but VERY expensive!).
    We drove by Balule just to say Hi - but there was nothing at the Causeway. Nothing much the rest of the way back to Letaba either. Got back about 4.
    We went for a walk in the camp, the river is very pretty but didn't have anything new. Nevertheless it was a nice walk. Came home to supper and early bed on account of we hadn't had our middagslapie.
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  • Day12

    Letaba Day 2

    May 21 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Because POps wasn't feeling so good yesterday, we made no plans for this morning. Started out by sleeping until 7! Decided we didn't want to do very much, so after breakfast we drove to Engelhard dam. It was mostly mopani but there were some loops to the river which yielded a few waterbirds, mostly Egyptian geese. The loop roads are in a bad state - we did some serious 4x4-ing. Even the major gravel road was badly corrugated. And the dam was a great diappointment - no water that we could see and no access either. So we had to be content with a few herds of elephant and/or buffalo and waterbuck and impala. Did see some warthogs which we haven't seen in the last couple of days...
    POps made us lamb curry for lunch (feels his stomach can always handle curry), and after the compulsory sleep he wrote his diary while I came to the laundromat so that we don't go home in 3-day old clothes.
    Birding was not bad today: on the way back from the dam we checked out Letaba's Day Visitors' area and found crested barbet and collared sunbird! The Day Visitors' area is lovely (see pic below) - even has it's own pool. Only drawback is that is does not look on to the river.
    Tomorrow we may be more adventurous...
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  • Day11

    Shingwedzi to Letaba.

    May 20 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    The plan was to drive on the H1 as being fastest and easiest driving; cereal breakfast and brunch at Mooiplaas. The plan worked fine until we got to Mooiplaas (about 11h30) and found that it was closed.
    POps had a bad tummy overnight so the brunch plan was now no go. We drove back to Mopani and went to look at the Day Visitors' area. It is not a very exciting place, so after a comfort stop we went to the big baobab tree to spot some buffalo weavers. The last time we were there the tree was full of nests, but today it was starkly empty - no leaves, only a few fruit and not a single nest. So we dipped on the little black bird with a red bill.
    We pressed on south and were amply rewarded: down one river loop we found ourselves in the middle of a herd of buffalo (we didn't tune them 'moo'), and on the next loop likewise in elephants (so we moved on smartly). Special was more than one sighting of tsessebe. Got several new birds too: magpie shrike, toppie, double-banded sandgrouse.
    And at last a decent signal so I could upload footprints!
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  • Day10

    Shingwedzi Day 5

    May 19 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Decided we'd enough of driving long distances as we were stiff and sore, so we decided to do the Lamont loop just across the bridge. When we turned into the Confluence loop a guy coming out said there were lion at the bridge. By the time we got to the bridge there were lots of cars and not everyone knowing where to look. Eventually found a male and 2 females way downstream on the bank.
    There was a sharp hoot and who should arrive from the north but Dries and Rhona, closely followed by Theuns and Lerouxna - so there was a Kokanje re-union on the bridge. Also a massive traffic jam as both couples were pulling huge caravans. Lots of fun and games!
    Thought we might have lunch at the restaurant, but after checking prices decided it was much cheaper to braai at the hut. So we did.
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  • Day9

    Shingwedzi Day 4

    May 18 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Today was Red Rocks day. We would do brunch when we got back to camp. We started with Jill as driver, turning right off the H1 on to the dirt road. It seemed a long way to Red Rocks but POps was navigating with Birdlasser on my old Samsung (couple of apps didn't make it to my new phone yet), and got us there safely. Our first animal was a young giraffe - neither of us won. We had seen no ellies yesterday and saw only one in the distance at Red Rocks. But we got lots of birds, mostly at RR where there were a couple of nice shallow pools for the little birds - cinnamon-breasted bunting, grey-headed sparrow and out-of-breeding weavers (spectacled?). Also white-fronted bee-eaters doing aerobatics and every kind of dove, including more Namaqua doves than we've ever seen in one place before.
    Brunch and a middag slapie were very welcome back in camp.
    We went for a night walk to the fence and heard a Dad explaining the difference between the 2 thick-knees to his kids. We then heard a spotted dikkop at fence - else we wouldn't have known the call! On the way back to the hut we heard the pearl-spotted owlet shrieking...
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  • Day8

    Shingwedzi Day 3

    May 17 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    We seem to naturally wake up about 06h00, so had a quick cereal breakfast and set off to Kanniedood dam. The river bed had patches of water, but on the whole is a very dry river bed. Kanniedood dam itself is very 'dood' - the wall is smashed and the dam is no more.
    However there seems to be quite a lot of water - again in patches - downstream.
    We collected some new waterbirds: Goliath heron, great egret, more hamerkops and Egyptian goose and spoonbills. Also heard the golden-tailed woodpecker at one spot, and a couple of grey hornbills flew over our hut when we got home.
    Chilled this afternoon - POps wrote his diary and I wrote this footprint...
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  • Day7

    Shingwedzi Day 2

    May 16 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Today we mostly chilled. Drove to the Bridge and down to the confluece of the Mphongolo and Shingwedzi rivers. From the bridge it looks very dry (looking west) but there is quite a lot of water really. Didn't need to go further - saw elephant, buffalo (grumpy old man), waterbuck, baboon, zebra, wildebees and lots of birds including an odprey!
    There's a big mean baboon which terrorizes the camp at dawn and dusk - he's quite scary!
    It was also washing day, so that's how we spent the afternoon...
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  • Day6

    Punda Maria to Shingwedzi

    May 15 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    A looong day in Juanita. But lots of animals and birds. Saw waterbuck for the first time this trip, otherwise ellies, buffalo, nyala and of course impala. Lots of new birds: 3 tawny eagles, white-backed vultures, yellow-billed storks, fish eagle, and best of all 3 ground hornbill from the Shingwedzi river bridge! POps got pictures of most, but I only managed a few animals we had to wait for. (My new phone has quite a cool editing program so all is done on the Huawei.)
    We had to wait for ellies and buffaloes to cross the road several times. And you can see that we are having a tough time! Can Margaux, Kirsten or Natie figure out who the bones belong to?
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  • Day5

    Pafuri

    May 14 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Paguri is probably our favourite place on earth. We were on our way about 06h30 and looking forward to a good brunch. The trip did not disappoint - snake eagle, more than 1 bateleur, steenbok, hippo and crocodile were all there. Didn't manage the lemon-breasted canary but got 3 different spurfowls!
    Pics are into the Limpopo valley, Pafuri, the Luvuvhu river, fever tree forest, Crooks' Corner, and Klopperfontein dam.
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