Welcome to Allen on Africa

What is it about the sub-Saharan African wilderness that pulls at me to go back again and again? The French coined the phrase Mal d’Africa and deemed it an incurable wistfulness and longing for Africa infecting those who have been there. Before I went to South Africa the first time in 1991, when I was already 43, I dismissed that as a romantic notion. Now I admit that I have the condition, and it seems permanent.

I’ve traveled extensively over six of the seven continents. Many places call me back, but no place do I enjoy returning to more than the African wilderness of the great wildlife parks of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and especially the natural beauty of the Kruger National Park of South Africa. The Kruger is spectacular, accessible, affordable, and vast.

I’ve written a lot of posts since 2007 about my experiences in Africa and they are all collected here. You’ll find the individual posts at right and collected by country below. On this blog, you’ll also find practical advice about flying to Africa and how to build an African holiday.

Kruger 2020 diary – day 10

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.
  • For reference, I posted the below map of Kruger National Park

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We hit the jackpot this morning with lions and hyenas not far south of Skukuza: first, a lone male lion on the road, then a big family of hyenas loafing in and by the road, and finally a small pride of three female and one male lion.

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A lion marks its territory

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Lion pride on the road south from Skukuza to Berg-en-Dal; not early morning long shadows

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Lions completely ignore us and the car passing by, even when brushing the side of the vehicle

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Hyena family

Turning onto the road to Berg-en-Dal Camp, we finally saw a rhino, albeit just disappearing into the Lowveld bush. But even a fleeting look confirmed unmistakably a White Rhinoceros, though not even Razz’s fast reflexes yielded a good photo.

And that wrapped up Razz’s photo safari checklist of the Big Five (buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant, and rhino) as well as every other major predator (cheetah, hyena, wild dog) and most every large mammal. I am very happy for Razz that his trip was so richly rewarding! Wildlife drives are exercises in reconnaissance, never guaranteed to actually see the great variety we have witnessed.

So the complete list of species seen today so far includes:

  • Lion
  • Hyena
  • Warthog
  • Zebra
  • Elephant
  • Mongoose
  • Impala
  • Wildebeest
  • Rhinoceros
  • Bushbuck
  • Buffalo
  • Waterbuck

The drive today took us through some gorgeous landscapes, such as this one looking southeast from Berg-en-Dal towards Mozambique:

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Today is our last full day of looking for animals. We return the Avis car tomorrow at noon to the Skukuza airport and fly to Johannesburg to connect to our nonstop Delta flight to Atlanta, then RDU.

We have driven 2,041 kilometers so far, or about 1,265 miles in 10 days. That’s 126.5 miles per day at a max of 30 mph on tarred roads and legal max of 25 mph on unimproved roads. Plus ample time stopping, of course, to watch the wildlife. In time, most days we drove 530am until 230pm, or 9 hours per day. It was very productive.

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Skukuza’s Cattle Baron pavilion overhanging the Sabie River, a 3-minute walk from our riverside rondavels

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The famous Selati Railway bridge over the Sabie River is being made into an overwater hotel

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Our riverside table at the Cattle Baron Restaurant hangs over the Sabie River

And very cheap. With the South African Rand at 15 to the US dollar, the fabulous blackened pepper fillet flambe on the fancy Cattle Baron menu (see menu photo), which comes with roasted potatoes, pureed sweet potatoes, and creamed African spinach, was R175 for the 200g “small” (.4 lbs).

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Part of the Cattle Baron menu at Skukuza

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Blackened pepper filet flambe at the Cattle Baron was phenomenally delicious!

That’s $11.67 for a meal to die for. The steak was cooked to perfection, tender, among the best cut of beef I’ve ever enjoyed anywhere on earth. An ideal way to end this ideal visit to the Kruger.

But this isn’t the end of our Kruger wildlife adventure.  Tomorrow morning we will drive south again to Berg-en-Dal for breakfast, along the way hoping to see a rhino or two a bit closer.  Then we head back to the Skukuza Airport at noon.

Kruger 2020 diary – day 9

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.
  • For reference, I posted the below map of Kruger National Park

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A GORGEOUS DAY TO DRIVE FROM SATARA CAMP TO SKUKUZA CAMP

As seen in the first photo of the sun rising over the low mountains that form the border with Mozambique, it was a beautiful morning. That picture was taken just north of Satara on a 30-minute detour north to look for lions (no luck).

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Hot and almost cloudless all day. En route south, we saw elephants, lizards, kudu, wildebeest, zebra, impala, buffalo, giraffe, vervet monkeys, baboons, lots of mongooses (2 species), a dazzling variety of birds (including scores of my favorite, the lilac-breasted roller, as well as a massive tawny eagle), crocodile, and hippo.

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Ground Hornbills are large and impressive and, like American Wild Turkeys, are good flyers.

But no lions, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, or rhino. I’m beginning to suspect Razz left his luck at Satara. Mine, too, for that matter.

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Troupes of baboons like this one frequently own the road. Tree branches like those in the picture dragged into the road by elephants are typical, along with massive elephant dung piles teeming with dung beetles.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed lingering with a large troupe of baboons on the road–well, until a young baboon jumped up on the rear window and began chewing on the rear windshield wiper blade. Photos of today’s wildlife include wildebeests, some of the baboons, and a ground hornbill (the size of an American Wild Turkey).

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Baboons can almost seem sweet at times.

More later depicting our breakfast stop at the quaint Tshokwane picnic spot, one of my Kruger favorite places.

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Wildebeest regarding us warily before hurrying away.

TSHOKWANE PICNIC SPOT, REDUX

Razz and I stopped at Tshokwane for breakfast on our 2nd day in Kruger last week, about which I sent a report and pix. Today’s return visit was even better, thanks to the ladies running it having prepared kudu pies and buffalo pies. They were out last week (“finished” is the local expression, as in the phrase, “No pies, sorry; is finished.”).

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Even though the stock in the little store has been modernized with too-cutesy apparel, Tshokwane retains a charming air of traditional old Kruger.

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Top photo above is a panoramic of the place showing the store to the left of our car and the alfresco pavilion to the right. Out of sight beyond both ends are toilets.

Photo just above is of the inside of the cluttered old store.

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Just above picture is the menu board. Note homemade meat pies: yummy!

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I had the buffalo pie (above photo) which came with “sheba,” a traditional South African garnish made principally from tomatoes. I’ve never been fond of it, which is why it’s still in the tin cup instead of poured over the meat pie. The buffalo was tender and delicious, and the portion generous.

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Final Tshokwane picture is of Razz sitting at our table with the nice ladies who do the food prep behind their counter in the background.

In that last pix, Razz and I are sitting beneath the Tshokwane outdoor pavilion, upon which a family of thieving Vervet Monkeys scamper around looking over the edge for an inattentive diner or chef. They dart in at impressive speed and grab whatever food morsels are not well-tended. The pavilion is built around an enormous tree, giving it a Swiss Family Robinson feel.

May Tshokwane keep its rustic soul forever.

SKUKUZA ‘LION COTTAGE’

I reserved the primo accommodations for us at every camp when possible, though none is expensive. We are at Skukuza Camp for our last two nights in the Kruger, where we have “riverside bungalows” directly on the Sabi River. Razz is in the famous “Lion Cottage” nearest the river (1st pix), and my bungalow is next door (seen to the right in the 2nd photo just below).

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Shown next below are views looking toward the Sabi River and a commemorative plaque on Razz’s Lion Cottage.

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AFSAAL PICNIC SPOT

The below photo shows directions to the men’s and women’s toilets at the Afsaal picnic spot (Afsaal is between Skukuza and Berg-en-Dal Camp). Afsaal is unfenced and famous for its frequent elephant visits, no doubt the inspiration of designers when preparing the signs to the toilets. 

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“Bulls” (the term for male elephants) is all well and good to point to the gents’ room, but I wonder how “Cows” (the term for female elephants) would go over in the United States. 

Afsaal is not as quaint as it once was, thanks to a 2019 refurbishment, which has made the site more popular than ever with the private safari operators licensed to bring in day trippers.

Tomorrow we drive south again in search of White Rhinos, which frequent this region of the Kruger.

 

Kruger 2020 diary – day 8

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.
  • For reference, I posted the below map of Kruger National Park

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We were the first vehicle out of Satara Camp this morning, having driven to the gate at 4:30 AM to wait for the 5:00 AM opening. Another gorgeous late summer morning, as seen in this lush landscape:

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Wildlife sightings were numerous, as always in the Kruger:

  • Black-backed Jackel
  • Elephant
  • Hyena

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  • Wildebeest
  • Zebra
  • Impala
  • Giraffe (shy creatures, giraffes almost always turn and go as soon as we come into view, as seen here; going-away shots are the rule with giraffes)

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  • Kudu (this one is a lone female)

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  • Spur-winged Goose
  • Lilac-breasted Roller
  • Red-billed Hornbill
  • African Buffalo (the modern name of what was called until recently Cape Buffalo)
  • Southern Carmine Bee-eater
  • Too many other birds to list, and, anyway, I have trouble differentiating between and among similar species, such as Hornbills and Raptors, like this eagle which I failed to identify:

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It was not the dramatic morning of yesterday, but the beautiful landscape and wildlife photos give some sense of the feel for the Kruger. The dirt roads are in good shape and, except for the distinctive flat-topped acacia trees, driving them reminds me of the natural beauty of the American West:

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Today’s is a short report.  Razz and I want to savor our last day at Satara Camp before packing and driving south to Skukuza Camp tomorrow for our final two nights before we fly home.

Kruger 2020 diary – day 7

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.
  • For reference, I posted the below map of Kruger National Park

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Razz and I drove from Satara to Orpen at 530am, first out of the gate when it opened. I was hoping to find Lions, Cheetah, and possibly African Wild Dogs, all species I had seen on that 40 or so km stretch in years past. Two years ago I had a pack of dogs run with me on that road one morning for several kilometers.

African Wild Dogs are, like Cheetahs, rarely seen in the Kruger. The mutts number in the low hundreds. Cute as they look behind the safety of windshield glass, wild dogs are indiscriminate meat eaters. People are on their menu, and the dogs’ razor sharp teeth and strong jaw muscles would certainly eviscerate a human with no trouble should we get out of the car.

However, it was misting rain and unusually cool (65° F.) for summer in the Kruger, and we drove the entire distance to Orpen seeing only some baboons and a large black mongoose.

Orpen Camp is also a Kruger Park gate which many private safari truck operators use to bring day trippers in for a look at the wildlife. Razz and I stopped for caffeine and found ourselves mingling with young Germans and other nationalities about to embark on such a drive. The surprisingly good coffee was poured at a tiny java bar adjacent to the modest camp store.

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After our break, we got back on the road to return to Satara. I’d plotted a slight detour on a gravel road hoping to see at least an elephant or two. About 2 kilometers off the main road I was slowed by one of the day tripper safari trucks hogging the lane and puttering along at a snail’s pace. The driver-guide was no doubt regaling his paying guests with Kruger lore and not paying attention.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a pack of 8 African Wild Dogs appeared on the road from our left between us and the slow-moving safari truck. I yelled out “WILD DOGS!” prompting Razz to grab his cameras and began to click away.  I did the same with my camera phone.

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The safari truck folks caught in pretty quick and backed up to catch the scene. The dogs moved to the front of their truck, blocking our view. I thought we had seen the last of the dogs as it was blocked by the big truck, but some of the girls on board suddenly began to gesticulate behind us and must have implored the driver to back up. They had spotted a hyena coming up the road and wanted to see it.

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I moved left enough on the wet dirt road (it was drizzling) for the safari truck to reverse on my right, and when he did, I saw my chance to flank him and get ahead to stay with the dogs.  Apparently, the young ladies on the truck failed to comprehend their Kruger lessons that Wild Dogs are rare, unlike the Hyena, a predator that far outnumbers the dogs.

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Soon Razz and I were in the midst of the Wild Dogs, as these pictures attest. After a long private period with the dogs all around us, we moved on to let others have a chance, but not before getting close to the hyena that had ambled up and which seemed curious about the dogs.  Below, the hyena is pictured staring at the wild dog pack.

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Razz’s luck seeing wildlife hit a new high with the dogs. After seeing Leopards twice and a Lion, plus Hyena and all the other species I’ve reported the last few days, he was missing only Cheetah and Rhino to fill out his Kruger dance card.

We drove on to the Timbavati picnic area on another dirt/gravel road in order to make a big loop back to Satara. En route we saw Impala, Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe, Elephant, Waterbuck, a family of black Mongoose, Vultures, many other birds, a Klipspringer or a Steenbok (I couldnt be sure), and the Hyena I mentioned that was following the dogs.

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I thought we were done for the days after seeing the African Wild Dogs because Razz’s luck must have limits. I was wrong.

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Herd of female Waterbuck survey the scene for possible danger.

After seeing Wild Dogs by 830am, I didn’t think Razz’s luck could top that, let alone on the same morning. But after leaving the Timbavati picnic site, we took another gravel road that loops back to Satara and almost immediately came across two Cheetahs.

Cheetah! Along with Wild Dogs, one of the rarest large carnivores to be seen in the Kruger. And now we had seen both in the space of perhaps 90 minutes.

The two cats were loping quickly across the road. I accelerated to come parallel in order to give Razz a fast shot with his Canon SLR before the lanky animals disappeared into the tall grass. Razz got a nice picture, but the Cheetahs were gone before I could get to a stop and raise my Samsung S10+ phone camera. Here below is his photo.

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Considering the steadily misting rain, overcast skies, speed of the cats, and fast reaction required to properly adjust the aperture and focus of the telephoto to account for conditions, Razz’s snap shot was excellent. I credit that to 60 years perfecting his photography skills.

Naturally, we were elated, just as we had been to see the Wild Dogs an hour and a half earlier. I started up the Toyota Avanza and continued on the gravel road that would lead us back to Satara.  Along the way we stopped to photograph my favorite South African bird species, the Lilac-breasted Roller, as a pair hawked insects off the road, successfully, as you can see in the second of Razz’s pictures below.

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At three or four kilometers beyond the Cheetah sighting we rounded a curve and saw two lions on the road, a youngish male with a partially grown mane and a female.

LIons! After seeing Wold Dogs, Cheetahs, and a Hyena. Again, I was astonished at our luck.

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Both Lions were showing ribs and looked thin. I took the pair to be mother and offspring. No signs of a pride nearby, and they obviously had not eaten in some time. We paced them for a kilometer as the photos attest, then moved off the road.

All together, a thrilling morning of wildlife. I want Razz to come with me on every Kruger trip from now on. His luck has been phenomenal, and he is excellent company to boot. Razz’s stories as we drive along looking for animals (about 1200 kms so far) are engaging, funny, and full of human warmth. We grew up together and were in every grade from Kindergarten until Razz went off to Woodberry Forest for high school, but I’d forgotten what a grand raconteur he is.

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In addition to African Wild Dogs, Cheetah, Lions, Hyena, and the other critters mentioned earlier, we saw Buffalo, Bataleur (new species today), Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Warthog, Impala, Black-backed Jackel, and 6 more Leopard Tortoises. Probably more, but that’s all I recall.

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The last photo attached is of our rondavels at Satara Camp by the perimeter fence, with the African wilderness beyond the fence. Good depiction of how we are in the zoo while the wildlife roams free.

We do it all again tomorrow, getting up at 430am.  Very early mornings are often the best time of the day to see wildlife in the Kruger.

 

Kruger 2020 diary – day 6

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.

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I write this as we have reached Satara for breakfast after leaving Olifants Camp at dawn.  Razz saw his first lion this morning, so my job as big bwana guide is done except for rhino, which I hope we will see south of Skukuza towards Berg-en-Dal Camp in a few days. What a relief to have made Razz happy! I would hate for him to return to Raleigh skunked.

  • Leopard (I can’t believe Razz’s luck in seeing TWO leopards on one trip to the Kruger, as leopard sightings are uncommon)
  • Ostrich (5 females and a male)
  • Hyena (many, in several different places, like this one below–also note more hyenas in the mirror)

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  • Wildebeest
  • Impala
  • Zebra
  • Francolin (well, I don’t usually list them because we see these partridge-like birds by the hundreds every day, all day)
  • Mongoose
  • Elephant
  • Lion (new species today)

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  • Giraffe
  • Oxpecker
  • Kudu
  • Waterbuck
  • Lilac-breasted Roller
  • Baboon (big troupe on the Olifants River bridge)

An astonishing array of species for just two hours of viewing!

I was happily surprised to see another leopard and skads of hyenas this morning coming home with big bellies from the night’s marauding.

After breakfast, we took off again and saw even more animals:

  • Leopard Tortoise (new species today–tortoises frequent wet roads to drink from the small pools for both moisture and accumulated minerals)

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  • Elephant (including one on the road that forced us to back up for a kilometer–note the tusk on the pachyderm below)

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  • Impala (munching in the luxuriant tall grass of summer, which is also great cover for lions and leopards on the hunt for impala)

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  • Red-billed Hornbill
  • Wildebeest

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  • Zebra (including more in the mirror)

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  • Waterbuck
  • As always, hundreds of birds that I’m no expert identifying. The ones I list I’m certain of, but even then, sometimes generic of a bird class. For example, there are many species of Francolin.

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Pretty good for two hours in the mid-morning to late morning period when many animals normally seek shade and rest to escape the brutal summer sun. But this is a beautiful day, with fluffy clouds and the occasional refreshing shower, as can be seen in the photo just above of a landscape about 30 kms. from Satara.

Razz and I are ensconced at Satara Camp for 3 nights in “perimeter” (meaning on the fence) rondavels numbers 165 and 166. We washed clothes at the laundromat before chilling with some cold ones by the fence late this afternoon (below).

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We were visited by many birds looking for handouts, including African Hoopoe, doves (species unknown), Red-billed Hornbill, Glossy Starling, and several unknown LBB species (Little Brown Birds). The birds are completely without fear, jumping up on the table and staring expectantly for food.

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Then to dinner on the Satara restaurant terrace by the perimeter fence with filthy, thieving Vervet Monkeys sneaking around the tables. I enjoyed a delicious Kudu pie, very tender and stewed with veggies.

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Final photos for today below are of the Satara Camp store, or “shop” in Kruger terminology.  Note the zebra and other hides for sale, all from Kruger carcasses of non-threatened species found by rangers and then skinned and tanned to be sold in national park shops.  Money from sales goes back to the park for conservation.  Tanned skins come with Kruger Park veterinary certificates that show them as legally acquired.

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Kruger “shops” like this one at Satara sell a wide variety of groceries and libation, as well as clothing with Kruger logos and African themes, curios, and, importantly, Kruger Park maps in several languages (on the right in the photo below).

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Tomorrow our early morning game drive (the prime time for wildlife viewing) will be east to Orpen Camp and the Orpen Gate where I have often found a pride of lions that lives close to Orpen and, if we get real lucky, African wild dogs.

The days are passing too quickly here, as always.  When I plan these trips at home, ten nights and eleven days sounds like about right, but is never enough.  Once I am in the Kruger, I don’t want to leave.

Kruger 2020 diary – day 5

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.

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Staying two or more nights in a camp means we can unpack and relax until the last evening.  It also lets us range around more freely, rather than always in the direction of our next camp.

Yesterday, as we drove south from Punda Maria, we stopped at Letaba, which is the camp not far north of Olifants, to visit the world-famous Elephant Hall, something we didn’t have time to do earlier when we stayed at Letaba for one night.  The well-done

hall, really a natural history museum dedicated to memorializing Kruger elephants with the largest tusks, is always fascinating, as these photos attest.

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On our game drives today we saw lots more wildlife, including:

  • Impala
  • Giraffe
  • Cape Buffalo
  • Hyena mama and babies

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  • Warthog
  • Ostrich (new species today)
  • Black-backed Jackal
  • Maribou Stork (new species today, and we saw lots of them in several locations roosting in trees, as in the below photos)

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  • Zebra
  • Wildebeest (like this one looking back at us)

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  • Kudu
  • Kori Bustard (new big bird species today)

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  • Elephants (many, many!)
  • Ground Squirrel
  • Lilac-breasted Roller
  • Tawny Eagle (new species today)

Great sightings for 530am until 1130am between Olifants and Satara! We are still looking for lions, cheetahs, and African wild dogs, all species spotted by other visitors yesterday and today on the same roads we traveled.

Which proves again what I call the “five minute rule” of looking for wildlife in the Kruger: I can drive a stretch of road and see nothing, then turn around and drive the same stretch the other way five minutes later and see a dozen African species that weren’t there before. The animals are in constant motion searching for food, so seeing animals is largely by chance. Though I can improve my chances by driving more hours.

The photos above include Maribou Storks dramatically perched in dead trees at sunrise and shortly thereafter. These large scavengers are nicknamed “Undertaker Birds” because of their diet of primarily dead things and because of their hunched-shoulder-in-formal-wear undertaker look. Later, from my rondavel, we saw the storks through Razz’s powerful telephoto lens gathered in huge numbers on islands in the Olifants River, a phenomenon I’ve never before witnessed.

Another large bird, the Kori Bustard, is depicted above as Razz clicks his Nikon to capture the telephoto image. And before that, the photo of a Hyena mom with a distended belly from last night’s fine dining, her babies digesting alongside.  The Wildebeest shown above wanted a good look at us before skedaddling.

Below is Razz with his telescope, through which we gazed at the Milky Way last night (Razz has been a serious amateur astronomer at least since we were 10 years old in 4th grade). During the day the scope is useful for pulling in distant Olifants riverside wildlife tableau from our porches, including spotting the big gathering of Maribou Storks on islands in the middle of the river.

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Two photos below show off the interior of my Olifants rondavel, which is roomy and comfortable.  Well, roomy except for Olifants camp management having pulled in the fridge from the porch to keep it safe from marauding baboons and vervet monkeys.  You can see the refrigerator to the right of the bed near the door.  These views nicely depict the very high ceiling and the circular walls which with the conical thatched roof define a rondavel.  The full bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower is located directly behind where I was standing to take these pictures.

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Razz and I are having dinner at the Olifants Camp restaurant, which features stunning river views as seen in these two pix.

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The final shot is of a car parked at Satara Camp this morning with a don’t-follow-me-I’m-a-birder bumper sticker. Such notice is much appreciated. When looking for wildlife in the Kruger, it can be frustrating to stop behind a bird-watcher when you think she or he may be looking at a lion. Bird-watchers often sit for extended periods admiring feathered creatures.

Note also the “ZA” sticker, which identifies the vehicle as from South Africa, and the license plate ending in “MP”, meaning it is registered in Mpumalanga, the modern name of the province in which the Kruger National Park is located, formerly known as the Eastern Transvaal.

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Tomorrow morning at 430 we again pack the car and move south to Satara Camp for three nights.

Kruger 2020 diary – day 4

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.
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We spent last night in the marvelous tents at Punda Maria Camp, then took off early this morning to head south to Olifants Camp, where we will spend two glorious nights overlooking the Olifants River from the high bluff that the camp sits upon.  Last night and en route south today we saw or heard these animals:

  • Lion (blood-curdling roars–only heard last night, not seen)
  • Hyena (eerie rising whoops–only heard all night and this morning, not seen)
  • Giraffe
  • Impala

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  • Waterbuck
  • Kudu
  • Steenbok
  • Black-backed Jackal
  • Hippopotamus
  • Ground Hornbill
  • Cape Buffalo
  • Wildebeest
  • Elephant

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  • Zebra
  • Warthog
  • Red-billed Hornbill
  • Baboon (including these cute babies below)

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Altogether, it was another long and productive drive for seeing wildlife.  Along the way we stopped to admire this magnificent baobab tree just north of Olifants Camp in full summer foliage:

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And, earlier, we stopped on the Letaba River bridge (one of the few places getting out of the vehicle is allowed, albeit at your own risk). We passed hundreds more elephants.

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The below photos give some impressions of the spectacular natural beauty in view from the Olifants Camp perimeter rondavels. I was careful to reserve the primo locations, assigned as number 11 and 12. I took these photos from 12.  That’s Razz on the porch taking late afternoon photos.

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Perimeter cottages at Olifants demand a premium. These were around $117/night each (at the Dollar/Rand exchange rate at the time I booked), compared to about $75/night per person for the “luxury” tents we slept in at Punda Maria last night.

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Razz and I are here at Olifants in this Eden-like setting with billion dollar views for two nights. We wasted no time opening beers and relaxing in awe of the astonishing vista. From this God’s eye view we can watch herds of elephants fording the Olifants River below, hippos munching grass on the far bank, and Waterbuck everywhere in and by the river. As always when the time comes, it will be hard to leave Olifants Camp.