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  1. #1
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    Default TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    This report will mainly be of interest to those newer to camping and the Kruger NP. However visiting and mainly camping in Kruger during the recent extensive rains and times of travel and social contact restrictions, should be of some general interest, as was the green lushness of all the plant growth and the full rivers.
    We spent most of our time in the quieter north of the park.
    There have been so few trip reports in these travel restricted times, that I felt one even on this mundane topic should be published.
    For ourselves, finally getting out into the bush again was magical and everything in the report must please be appreciated in that context.

    SlowDonkey is out and about again after 2 years in virtual hibernation. There is no stopping us now!
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2021/03/08 at 12:51 PM.
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.


  2. #2
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Thanks for posting! It was very well-timed for us, because this coming Saturday we embark on the long trek from Cape Town to northern Kruger- very excited.
    I am just hoping like crazy that the roads around Pafuri will have been reopened by now, because that fever-tree forest drive is a special favorite of ours...

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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Fantastic trip report as usual, Stan.
    Errol Cornelius



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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    A great read!
    Mike

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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Thanks Stan,

    Just scanned through but know it will be a good read when I get the time to.

    "In nature, nothing is on order - appreciate what you do get to experience" - Myself
    Everest 2.0 BiT - BL Boskriek
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Awesome report as usual Stan!

    I was interested to hear you refer to the thick-tailed bush baby as rare? My experience has been that they are fairly common unless the specie I know of as a thick-tailed bush baby is not that which you encountered?

    We spent some time in the Skukuza staff village in the mid 2000s and they were common there to the point of being a nuisance. I have also encountered them at Maphelane northern KZN where they were also quite common. One in particular, quite an adventurer judging by his bald tail and scars all over, would frequently climb inside a clear plastic bucket which stood on the patio to see whether the sinkers inside had perhaps become tasty.

    If an animal rights activist had arrived and spotted a group of fishermen all seated around a clear plastic bucket containing a live bush baby peering through the sides I can only imagine some sort of cardiac episode would have followed.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Stan - THANK YOU so much for this.
    Our last trip was our Kokerboom expedition with others through both sections of the Namakwa ECO Trail (North), Richtersveld, SE Nam, Kalaghadi NP and back home.
    We also have not moved in any significant way since then.

    We do love KNP and have been there quite litterally countless times during our time from when our two girls were young until May 2019 - our last trip to Kruger assisted by "Smarty" on this forum and his SWAMBO, who agreed to share his previously booked KNP campsites with us at the last moments.

    We are homebound now due to different reasons.
    But still hoping for miracles.

    Your report will bring back many, many good memories.

    Thank you again.
    Peter & Erica
    Last edited by Peter1949; 2021/03/08 at 12:56 PM. Reason: Correction
    Peter Hutchison
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  9. #8
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Quote Originally Posted by Half-Pint View Post
    ....I was interested to hear you refer to the thick-tailed bush baby as rare? My experience has been that they are fairly common unless the specie I know of as a thick-tailed bush baby is not that which you encountered?
    Thanks, in fact a whole pint.
    Your query has induced me to research properly. There are two species of bush babies in South Africa. The commoner is the thick-tailed bush baby. Less common is the far smaller lesser bush baby. These were indeed thick-tailed bush babies and are not rare. What was particularly interesting to me was to discover that they are camp pests, although only nocturnally. I have never heard or read of the fact that they can become habituated pests, at night too, when you least expect it.

    http://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_bushbaby.html
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Many thanks Stan, great trip report as always. You've whetted my appetite for a return trip to Kruger, was last there nearly 20 years ago, although it used to be one of our regular pilgrimages when we were kids, trekking up from Somerset West in my parents' Kombi.
    Tony Weaver

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    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Brilliant Stan as always, sounds like you had a fantastic trip. Thanks for taking the effort to do a report, always appreciated.

    There do seem to be a lot of European Rollers this year for some reason - they are popping up in all sorts of unexpected places. I think your Pallid Harrier is a Montagu's - it has got a black band across the central portion of the wing and has brown and white barred feathers under the wing.

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  13. #11
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Dankie Stan awesome terug voer ja die wiltuin het baie reen gekry

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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Thanks Stan for this exceptional report.
    Northern Kruger is so special!

    “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same." - Ernest Hemingway

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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Hi Stan,Thank you for an informative report and great reading.Off to Mabu and Kgalagadi on Friday for 2 weeks, your report has inspired me to do one on our returnThanks

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  17. #14
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Thanks Stan, Wonderful report!

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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    ......You've whetted my appetite for a return trip to Kruger, was last there nearly 20 years ago, ........
    Tony I dare to say that you will be amazed how little some things have changed, really olde worlde and not just from lack of maintenance. Underrated!
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  19. #16
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post
    Tony I dare to say that you will be amazed how little some things have changed, really olde worlde and not just from lack of maintenance. Underrated!
    Hi Stan,
    Not wanting to steal your thread, but here's the piece I wrote in 2002 after my first return visit to Kruger after a nearly 40-year hiatus - it does seem as though almost nothing has changed!



    KRUGER NATIONAL PARK THEN AND NOW

    For The Motorist February 2002

    By Tony Weaver

    KODACHROME MOMENTS FROM KRUGER

    As a child, Tony Weaver travelled regularly to the Kruger National Park, in the days when men were men and women cooked stews that tasted better than ever by day seven. Now he cooks the stews, and takes his own son and daughter to revisit the bushveld stamping grounds of his youth.


    TEXT:

    When I was a child, family legend had it that the longest place name in South Africa was a farm called “Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein ” (The spring where two buffaloes were shot stone dead with one bullet.) The story must have had some resonance within my extended family.

    Back in the very early 1960s, our far-flung clan would prepare every second year for a trek to the furthest regions of South Africa. From Basutoland (now Lesotho) would come the Short-Smith cousins in their Series I Land Rover. From Ficksburg in the Free State, the Pullens would saddle up their Zephyr, and down in the Western Cape, in Somerset West, we would fire up the old 1956 Kombi with the split screen windows. Our urban cousins, the McKenzies of Cape Town, would pile into their Taunus van and off we would all trek.

    Our destination was the Kruger National Park. We Capies had the longest journey, a grueling epic of four days or more, sleeping by the roadside in the days when it was still safe to do so. The weeks before departure were spent packing and repacking tents, checking guy ropes and tent pegs, making sure that sleeping bags had been aired, sorting out pots, pans and supplies, and fine tuning the various engines for the arduous epic ahead. My dad would haul out his old Leica that he was given by the travel writer, HV Morton (“In Search of South Africa”), buff up the lenses, check that the parallax viewfinder was still functioning, and lay in extra stocks of Kodachrome.

    My father would wake us all at three in the morning, so we could have breakfast at my mother’s family farm in the Hex River Valley. The landscapes unfolded slowly, and the Great Karoo was a daunting slab of Africa to cross. On day four, the real adventure began, hitting the dirt roads that led out of the tiny village of Nelspruit en route to what we always called, simply, “The Game Reserve.”

    We would start in the south, usually at Skukuza, then slowly meander northwards, finally exiting three weeks later at Punda Maria in the extreme north. But it was the first few days that were the most exciting – meeting our cousins again, setting up the first camp as close to the fence as possible for more exciting night time encounters, and then the first night around the fire.

    There were no fridges, and no shops to speak of inside the reserve. So my mother and the various aunts would pickle vast quantities of meat, adding curry powder to the mix as the weeks moved on. By the third week, we were eating meat that hadn’t seen the inside of a fridge for nearly a month.

    The first night around the fire always belonged to my uncle Ken Short-Smith, a consummate story teller, painter, writer, and officer in the Basutoland Mounted Police, a dashing figure with a curling moustache, who travelled everywhere on patrol on horseback. His best story went like this: “We were hunting deep in the bush in Mozambique, on the spoor of a pride of man-eating lions, and we knew they were very dangerous.

    “Then suddenly, the bush parted and the pride came charging towards us. I could see their yellow fangs, I could smell their rancid breath, and knew I was in deep trouble, because I only had six bullets in my gun. I shot five lions with five bullets, but there were still three charging towards us. The one in front swerved around a sharp rock, and the two behind charged around on either side. I shot the first lion between the eyes, the bullet went right through him, hit the rock behind, split in half, and the two halves killed the other two lions.” Drieleeusmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein.

    The Kruger Park then was a magical place. All the roads were dirt, there was no electricity, there was a sense of being in the wilderness, of being in a part of Africa little changed from the days of the ox wagon. We had moments of high drama – a leopard in our camp at Maroela, an elephant charging the Kombi and my dad reversing into a tree, flat tyres with lions close by, cobras in the camp, lion and cheetah kills happening before our eyes.

    We ate our fill of what my mother euphemistically called her “game reserve stew” – a pungent broth in a large cast iron three legged potjie. The stew grew richer and stronger with each new addition to the night before’s leftovers. The adults had large stocks of Tassenberg, the red wine that raised several generations of South Africans, and of Sedgwick’s Old Brown Sherry for the cold winter nights.

    Our greatest thrill was reserved for the times when we got to talk to a real live game ranger, and my three brothers and I all grew up determined we would also be game rangers one day. The best was when we reached the northern camps of Shingwedzi and Punda Maria. Very few tourists ever got that far north, and the game rangers were starved for company, so they would gladly drop by our camp and sit around the fire drinking Tassenberg, spinning yarns. We boys were riveted, as were my teenaged girl cousins.

    The years passed – 40 of them since my first visit, as a five-year-old, to the “Game Reserve”. My son, Zac, had just turned six and my daughter, Shannon, was pushing three, so we decided to revisit the place of dreams, the place where my love affair with the African bush began. But not without trepidation. I knew that most of the roads had been tarred, that the bigger camps sported supermarkets, restaurants, film shows, swimming pools, and, no doubt, hordes of foreign tourists in air-conditioned buses.

    Our first stop was Satara, and the weather, and the tourists were against us. Howling winds sent huge clouds of dust into the air, Springbok Atlas buses lined up at the restaurant, so we fled after one night, to Letaba, and paradise. The further north we got, the fewer the tour buses and the closer to the real roots of Kruger. We had taken a vow that we would only travel on tar roads when we had to, and managed to drive nearly 300km on dirt, zigzagging between Satara and Punda Maria.

    It was an extraordinary journey into the past, with hours watching leopard, lion kills, huge elephant herds, rare birds, several honey badgers, cheetah, elusive snakes and a myriad other creatures great and small without another vehicle in sight. In Letaba, we had a vast, shaded camp site almost to ourselves, and in both Shingwedzi and Punda Maria, the nearest camp to ours was a good 200 metres away. And they were campers who respected the African night, no bright lights, no loud music.

    In Punda Maria (the whole camp should be declared a national monument), our friendly local elephant came and scratched himself on the wire every night, and our night walks yielded everything from an elephant shrew to a spotted hyaena. And Zac and Shannon met some real game rangers.

    At night now, when I talk my son to dreamland, he says sleepily, “Dad, tell me another story about the game reserve.” I am tempted to tell him about how I shot dead five lions with one bullet, but he would be horrified that I could even contemplate hunting.

    And while Shannon still wants to be a fairy when she grows up, Zac’s planning on being a game ranger. In the Kruger National Park, of course.
    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2021/03/08 at 04:29 PM.
    Tony Weaver

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    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

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  21. #17
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    So good to read another of your trip reports Stan. We spent 38 nights in Kruger in July/August 2019 in the park moving south to north staying at many of the camps you visited, the north, particularly Tsendze and Punda (4 leopard sightings, 2 solo) were our favourites. Your trip report brought memories flooding back for Linda and I, we can't wait to return to Africa
    Last edited by Tedx2; 2021/03/10 at 08:07 AM.
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  22. #18
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    Thanks John for a feelgood post and also Tony, your return to “The Game Reserve” is long overdue. Start in the north!
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  23. #19
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    For some idiotic reason I find myself unable to edit my PDF as linked in my original post. I would like to provide the information on driving distances covered on the last page of the PDF print.

    "NOTE 2: The most interesting stat for me was the fact that we covered a total of 1930kms driving within the park, in other words game drives, astounding. It shows we did work hard.
    • Kms covered East London to Punda Maria Gate 1490kms
    • Kms covered within the park with game drives 1930kms
    • Kms covered from Malelane Gate to East London 1369kms"
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  24. #20
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT Feb 2021, Kruger - north during lockdown.

    So where did you gooi diesel in the park ?

    2000 kilos range in your less than thrifty toyota is impressive

    enjoyed your writing style again

    You made the park seem more than the zoo i think it is - well done on that point

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