Jan 07 Kruger trip report

Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 09:00 PM
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Jan 07 Kruger trip report

Hallo to all Fodorites, here is hoping that everyone's year has started off well and may i wish everyone a prosperous 2007. This forum has become even more popular by the looks of it and there are some great reports and responses to questions. I wish we could post more, but we are in the fortunate position of being able to spend a lot of time outdoors.

As promised I will post at least one thread per month on happenings in Kruger, and will happily answer any questions. Tom, did not forget about you, and would like to answer two of your questions. The Satara region lies within the Basalt and Ecca Shales bedrock, lending itself to vistas reminiscent of Masai Mara and Serengeti. Throughout the year huge herds of Burchell's Zebra and Blue Wildebeest can be found on the open plains, and we have also seen ostrich in this area regularly. The area is only second to Crocodile Bridge/Lower Sabie in Lion population and you can imagine that there is magnificent Cheetah sightings in the Savanna regions. A must is the S 100 dirt road that meanders along the Nwanetsi river. The combination of riverine vegetation and open savanna gives one the opportunity of seeing all 3 the big cats as well as all the other big and hairies. Nwanetsi has a fantastic picnic spot overlooking the river and can be reached for a late breakfast ( self catering ) and a chance for the younger members of the family to stretch legs and run around a bit. Depending on your time that you would like to spend out there, you can take the tar road from the picnic spot back to Satara on the Southern side of the river, ( get back in time for the young ones to swim and relax a bit ) or if you are feeling more adventurous, you could head north to Gudzani waterhole and then turn west to Mavumbye and witpens suipkrip, where you will join up with the Satara main road south to the camp. As you probably know one can by the maps at the shops or gates for R35.00 and then all the names and roads will make perfect sense. You will also see on the map book that there is a multitude of loop road options around Satara with the Timbavati, Mudzanzeni and Tshokwane picnic spots offering morning picnic drives in any direction you desire. In short I personally love Satara, not for the camp's beauty, but for it's vistas and game viewing. Our first visit to Kruger that I can remember as a 4 year old, is of lions killing a zebra at night at the entrance gate on our first night in Satara. Those are memories that are indelible and though it is true that any safari will cost you money, the experiences are priceless!

On your second question about game viewing around Olifants. What I will do for you is if you can send me your date of departure from home I will chat to our guides and forward their sightings in the area around Olifants. This should give you a fair idea of what you can expect. If there is anyone else, please let me know and we will do the same.

I have been fortunate to take our Italian friends on a walking, Sabie Sand combo. We had amazing sightings, including the magnificent 7 and witnessing 2 leopard kills. This is the 6th time we have been on Safari together and is something my wife and I look forward to every year. Lynn if you are reading it, is the same friends we were with when we met you at Linyanti. Also enjoy your trip to SA in June. You will not be dissapointed with Mala Mala. We might bump into you, as we will be on safari with our 2 friends from Columbia, US.

The trip report for Kruger in Jan will only include 2 game drives. We met our group on the 17th and started our game drive from Malelane gate at 1600. We had to be at Skukuza at 1830 for a bush barbeque ( known as a braai in SA ). We thus decided that we will all head north on the main road. In 2.5 hours we saw the following. Elephant on 3 occasions, White rhino 3 times, Lions twice and Buffalo and Leopard twice!

One can book at the various camps for the bushbraai that will typically include a afternoon/night drive and good, healty SA fare. It is possible to also inquire at reception if it is possible to include an astrology talk after dinner. These dinner sites are set in the middle of the bush, and there are not many places where you can dine with the whooping of hyenas as your background music. Bookings can be done beforehand through SA National Parks or you can simply inquire at reception upon arrival.

We were up the next morning at 0430 and on the road at 0530. This day included an unbelievable 9 different White Rhino sightings, 10 Elephant, 3 Lions, 2 leopard and 1 Buffalo sightings. We headed west from Skukuza, turned on the Doispane road, south on Watergat, west on the Napi road, and did the 4x4 route at Pretoriuskop called the Madlabantu. Currently there are 4, 4x4 routes in the park, and if you are looking for a little bit of exclusivity and freedom, this can also be booked at reception or through the head office in Pretoria. For more information go to www.sanparks.org The sightings were also obtained by heading south east on Voortrekker, south on the H3, and west on the Berg-en-dal entrance road were we headed to the bushbraai site for lunch. We dropped our guests off at Malelane gate at 1500. What we were hoping to achieve with this post is not only to illustrate the fortune we had with game viewing, but the multitude of activities that is on offer that can enhance your experience immensely.

I hope that this post will help future visitors to Kruger. Again please do not hesitate to post questions on this forum that we can assist with.

Proudly South African

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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 09:39 PM
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Jaco, great, great to have your reports and expertise on this. Satara camp is rather full at this time, even this far out, for our September visit for nights of the 5th-8th. So, for the moment we are booked in at Letaba. Letaba looks good "on paper" since it is on the Letaba River with roads S46, S47 and S95 running along the river out of Letaba. What do you think?
regards - tom
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 11:15 PM
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Jaco, nice report. Thanks

Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 03:21 AM
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Tom, the Tsendze loop is a must, especially during the end of the dry season, due to the stagnant pools of water in the river. This loop is north of Letaba and will put you within breakfast distance of Mooiplaas picnic spot. From here you could head east towards the Mooiplaas and Nshawu water holes. We saw Buffalo herds in excess of 1000 last year at the same time, congregating around the water. It is also reknowned as aspot where you can spot some of the emerging Big Tusker Elephants in Kruger. I have just purchased a book called The large Tuskers of Africa. Well worth it and gives you an idea of where these gentleman roam about. From here head south back to Letaba. For the youngsters there is bushbuck roaming around in Letaba camp itself, a nice pool and my personal favourite the Elephant Museum which I think MKhonzo mentioned earlier. There are insect eating bat "houses" placed on posts inside the camp, that is also fascinating. If there is nobody in the Guest house on the Southern side of the camp there is a beautiful hide where we have had amazing, quiet afternoons with Ellies drinking right in front of us. If the guest house though is occupied, it is for their private use. Again I will check with our guides closer to the time and will let you know about sightings, as all the roads you mentioned can be very good. Chat to the resident rangers to find out if they maybe know where the Pel's fishing Owls are nesting along the Letaba. This Owl is incredibly endangered and well worth the effort in trying to find. I think Robert our birding specialist might be in the area during that time and I will try and find out from him. Hari, great to hear from you again, when and to where is your next trip into Africa?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 09:14 AM
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Thanks for the report filled with excellent game sightings. You were early birds.

That would a pleasant coincidence to bump into you again next summer. Hope it works out so I can say, "We have to stop meeting like this!"
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 12:18 PM
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Great info - thanks very much. We (an Australian family of 4)will be in the Kruger area in December this year - 6 nights from 26th December. We had planned 2 nights Satara, 2 nights Olifants and 2 nights Gomo Gomo game lodge. We were hoping to self cater in Kruger (this is part of a 5 week trip where we self cater in part to offset the cost of those places where we are a little more extravagant). We are able to get accommodation in Satara but find that Olifants accommodation is not suitable (only shared kitchen), so we are wondering which other camp we should consider staying at. My thought is to head south to Pretoriouskop or Lower Sabie, while my husband thinks we should head north to Lataba or even Mopani. Do you have any comments given that it is the middle of summer and we expect very lush?
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 06:10 PM
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Mark and I missed you at Thornybush in December-sorry you could not make it-had a great time!

Really enjoyed Ngala tented-great concession.

Ons sal maar "n brandewyntjie saam later moet geniet.

Groete spiere!
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