Lisa and Mark's trip to South Africa and Botswana

Jan 21st, 2007, 08:30 AM
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Lisa and Mark's trip to South Africa and Botswana

Mark and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to South Africa and Botswana -- 8 nights in Kruger, 1 night in Pretoria, and 8 nights at Kwando camps (3 nights Little Kwara, 3 nights Lebala, 2 nights Lagoon). The dates were Dec. 29, 2006-Jan. 15, 2007. We haven't even loaded all of our photos onto our computer yet so putting together this trip report may take a while. But I want to thank everyone here for all of your advice. The sanparks.org forums were a great resource as well. This was our second time in Kruger, after a 3-night stay in Olifants in 2003, and our first time in Botswana. We had planned this trip for almost a year and really had a fantastic time.

Mark surprised me on Christmas Day with the gift of a new Canon 30D, so my photos reflect the fact that I am still learning how to use it. Hopefully with practice I will get better.

We left Washington DC on Dec. 27th, changed planes in Paris, and arrived at JNB on Dec. 29th around 7:30 AM. By the time we got through the lines at immigration it was around 8:30, and by the time we picked up our Nissan X-trail at National it was about 9:30AM. We were soon on our way to Kruger!

We stopped someplace for lunch and later stopped at the Spar in Malelane to stock up on a few provisions for our 8 days in Kruger. We bought a cooler but being a holiday weekend they were sold out of ice...and it was starting to get HOT...

After leaving Malelane we continued on to Komatipoort where we stopped for petrol and finally headed up to Crocodile Bridge gate to enter the park...only to find the gate closed because the river was flooded! OH NO!!! If only there had been a sign someplace on the road to warn us... By now it was 3:30PM and after looking at our map we quickly realized our only option was to drive all the way back to Malelane Gate and enter that way, and hope we could make it to Lower Sabie by the time the camp gate closed at 6:30 -- ARGH.

Sure enough, by the time we made it into Malelane Gate it was 4:30 PM, and we had just two hours to get to Lower Sabie via Crocodile River Road. No time to stop for game viewing.

We made it into the gate at Lower Sabie as it was getting dark, at exactly 6:27 PM -- Whew! We were there! We were assigned tent #19, our home for the next three nights (had requested 16-18 or 20-22 but they were fully booked). It had an open-air bathroom, a kitchenette on the deck in front with a small frig and sink, dishes and utensils, etc., a pretty good view of the river...and a nice view of a herd of elephants that was directly in front of our tent just as we arrived. The baboons had already knocked over the trash can outside, a harbinger of things to come. The tent itself was quite nice except for being very warm (the ceiling fan helped a bit) and the fact that the mesh door between the open-air bathroom and the "bedroom" had many holes in it and would not zip closed at the bottom. Fortunately we did not have too many problems with mozzies or creepy crawlies, although we made sure to keep all food and drink in the frig, which had a sliding lock on it to keep out the baboons.

Cleaned up, had a quick dinner in the dining room buffet as we were exhausted (and the takeaway was closed by the time we got there), and were in bed by 8:30 PM, so happy to be in Kruger at last. Fell asleep to the sounds of the hippos and frogs.
lisa is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 10:33 AM
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Welcome back! Can't wait to read more... and to see your photos when you've had time to process and upload them! And hey, I definitely approve of Mark's choice of Xmas present!
Kavey is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Welcome home from a fantastic itinerary.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 01:37 PM
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Welcome home. I look forward to more of your trip report, and your photos.
panecott is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 03:40 PM
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santharamhari
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Lisa,

Welcome back!!! Dying to read your sightings reports. Rest up and write when you are able to.

Rgds,
Hari
 
Jan 23rd, 2007, 08:05 PM
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Looking forward to your trip report lisa - 'Specially Botswana leg.
Cheers and hope the post-Africa blues lift as soon as you start planning your next trip
Thembi is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 09:30 PM
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Also, more Kruger experiences. I am planning on spending more time there this fall.
regards - tom
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Jan 24th, 2007, 06:17 AM
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After falling asleep to the sounds of hippos and frogs, woke up to the sounds of the birds...and then to a loud banging and clanging. It was the baboons making their morning rounds, emptying the contents of every metal trash can in camp. From inside our tent we watched through the mesh flaps as they methodically foraged for scraps. Some of the baboons were HUGE and you would not want to mess with them. They do this every morning and the camp knows they have a major problem on their hands and warns camp guests to lock up their food etc., but apparently they haven't found the solution yet. I think they need the kind of "bear-proof" trash bins that some of the U.S. and Canadian national parks use.

Lower Sabie has a lovely viewing deck overlooking the river with a coffee bar. It doesn't open until 7 but I found a nice person who was willing to sell me a couple of cups of coffee early, and I took them back to our tent so we could have breakfast on our deck with the banana bread, yogurt, fruit, and cereal we had bought. Some of the barbets and other naughty birds were very bold and hopped right onto our table to try to steal crumbs directly under our noses.

After breakfast we set out on our first game drive. We first stopped at the bridge over the river and got very close to some pretty blue wire-tailed swallows perched on the railing. Then we went to Sunset Dam and admired an Egyptian goose family that had a lot of tiny goslings out for a morning swim, until a big croc got too close and then they all hurried out of the water while we breathed a sigh of relief for them. A big pod of hippos was lolling underneath a dead tree in the water that was full of weaver birds building elaborate nests. We watched a sharp-eyed heron on the bank looking for fish in the water. A fish eagle perched in a tree. A group of impalas approached the water tentatively to drink. It was a very peaceful scene and we were so happy to be there.
lisa is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 05:11 PM
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Keep it coming Lisa - this a lovely trip report, thank you.
Thembi is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 07:25 PM
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I was on that river for a moment.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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Between the two of us, we took about 7,000 photos so just going through them is a bit overwhelming...but I have started and my first batch of 48 pics, from Kruger (starting in the south at Lower Sabie to Satara and then Mopani) can be seen at:

web.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel

I haven't done a thing to these and as I said I'm still learning how to use my camera and also how to use the web.mac tools so bear with me please. We will eventually get Mark's up, and the rest of mine, and the rest of the trip report.


lisa is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 07:16 PM
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Hi Lisa,
Welcome home! I also was in the Sabi Sand area over that period - 28/12 to 18/1. Seeing the photo with you all rugged up, reminded me how cold it was for a few days end of Dec and very beginning of january. Really cold! Then in the last week or so days of 40 degrees, so both extremes.

Look forward to more of your trip report.

Kind regards,
Kaye
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Jan 29th, 2007, 12:47 AM
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santharamhari
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Kaye,

Welcome back!!! I did see your post of wild dogs.....so, i assume you had a fantastic overall trip......

Kind regards,
Hari
 
Jan 29th, 2007, 06:55 AM
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santharamhari
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Lisa,

Nice pics. Very lucky with the black rhino, indeed!!!

Hari
 
Jan 29th, 2007, 09:12 AM
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Thanks for enhancing my lunch break today with your well done photos - a novice, you're not.
Loved the mama hyena grooming the percocious young one and the baboon portrait.
Keep it coming!
cybor is offline  
Jan 29th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Can't wait for more and really enjoyed the first batch of photos too!
Kavey is offline  
Jan 29th, 2007, 11:34 AM
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Wow Lisa - You've got some fabulous shots there. May I ask - which lens did you use most often? The hyena shots and many other close-ups are amazing! Looking forward to seeing more.

Sharon
cooncat2 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2007, 01:31 PM
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Lisa - keep it coming, please. We will be several days in Kruger this September. 7,000 photos, been there also
Nice photos, really like that your mac com web site. Can you kindly tell me more about how you get/use it, does not require a Mac does it, don't have to use iPhoto, Final Cut or Mac such programs?
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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Thanks for your nice comments everyone!

Kaye -- Temps varied a lot -- the first two days were incredibly hot (43 C), and then the third day it cooled off a lot, then it heated up again by the end of the trip.

Sharon -- All of the pics I've posted so far were taken with my Canon 75-300 IS USM lens.

Tom -- I did use iPhoto so can't speak to using the .mac program without it. I have never used Final Cut, photoshop, or any of those -- I am a total newbie at this. Just when I was getting the hang of working with a homepage on .mac which I had set up last year, mac has now changed it all to .web which is sort of similar but not the same -- so now we have a homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel address and a web.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel address. I have not learned the .web program very well yet...but if you are interested you can go to web.mac.com and read about it.
lisa is offline  
Jan 30th, 2007, 01:21 PM
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Beautiful shots. The baboon is just precious. I love waterbuck faces and you captured it well. The hyena den had to be exciting. Nice kneeling warthog and some seedpods for color.
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