South African Road trip (Part V – Kruger safari)

Wild dogs

Wild dogs

Day 20: February 21st ~ Johannesburg – Kruger National Park (Viva Safari)

Giraffe

Giraffe

The ‘business’ part of the trip being finished Duk and I headed back to Kruger for a few days. To make things easier we booked a 5-day organized safari with Viva Safari.

We arrived at Tremisana in late afternoon and went on an afternoon drive straight away. While we did not see much wildlife on the drive, we managed to spot two animals that we have not seen before: a Grey Duiker and Common Duiker along with a few Giraffes and Impala. After the game drive we drove to Marc’s Tree House Lodge.

Day 21: February 22nd ~ Marc’s Tree House Camp & Kruger National Park

Unfortunately the lodge is outside Kruger NP, it lies adjacent to Kapama Reserve. Because the camp was outside the park we did not have the opportunity to go on any night drives at all and thus missed out on a lot of sightings of nocturnal wildlife.  On the first day we saw a male Lion sleeping concealed in the high grass only a couple of meters from the road. For most of the day we drove around without much luck. We saw the usual ungulates and quite a few Water bucks, but no predators. However, on our return home, just a few kilometers away from the Orpen gate we spotted the rarest cat of all – Cheetah. It was a female with a large cub feeding on the kill in the tall grass. This was quite a piece of luck – there are only about 200 cheetahs in the park and we saw 2 of them!

Cheetah and a cub at the kill

Cheetah and a cub at the kill

Impala

Impala

Steenbok

Steenbok

Day 22: February 23rd ~ Marc’s Tree House and Afternoon drive

It has been raining all day and we had a free morning so Duk and I decided to explore the area around our guest house. We took the chance to watch some very tame Nyalas that were living on the property, but otherwise are very rare in the wild.  We also spent some time bird watching and spotted an African Paradise Flycatcher and a Yellow-Breasted Apalis.

Nyala with a young

Nyala with a young

Nyala male

Nyala male

Yellow-breasted apalis

Yellow-breasted apalis

Paradise flycatcher

Paradise flycatcher

In the afternoon we took a drive on the guest house property, but the only quality wildlife we saw was a Black Rhino with a calf. The rest of our wildlife watching for the day was concentrated on frogs around the camp site, of which there were plenty of. In just over an hour we spotted five species: Banded Rubber Frog, Bubbling Kassina, Foam Nest Frog, Snoring Puddle Frog and Guttural Toad.

Snoring Puddle Frog

Snoring Puddle Frog

Bubbling Kassina

Bubbling Kassina

Black rhino

Black rhino

Giraffes

Giraffes

Elephant train

Elephant train

Day 23: February 24th ~ Marc’s Tree House & Kruger National Park

Practically as soon as we drove through the gate we spotted a Leopard. Unfortunately it was completely concealed in the grass by the time we arrived, so it wasn’t a particularly good sighting. During the 8 hours of driving through the park we saw the usual animals including Hippos and a large number of birds: Crested Francolin, Swainson’s Spurfowl, African Mourning Dove, Burchell’s Starling, Laughing Dove, Southern Carmaine Bee-eater, Double-banded Sand Grouse, Saddle-billed Stork, Black-collared Barbet, Goliath Heron, Helmeted Guineafowl,Woodlands Kingfisher, Grey-headed Parrot, Violet-backed Starling, White Stork, Wattled Starling, Meve’s Starling, Southern Ground Hornbill and Cori Bustard.

Black-collared barbet

Black-collared barbet

Southern Carmaine Bee-eate

Southern Carmaine Bee-eater

Saddle-billed storks and mating Hippos

Saddle-billed storks and mating Hippos

It was on the way home, again, that we saw the most amazing animals of the day. A few kilometers from the Orpen Gate we spotted a young Leopard hiding in tall grass. As soon as we drove through the Orpen Gate we saw a pack of Wild Dogs running across the road and disappearing in the thick undergrowth.  And as we thought we got the most from the day, our driver spotted White Lions behind the fence on the Timbawati Reserve side. The male disappeared practically as soon as we arrive, but the three females were happy to lounge in front of us for quite some time. If there is one cat rarer than a cheetah in Kruger it is definitely the White Lion. Our guide has not seen them for 12 years.

Wounded leopard

Wounded leopard

Day 24: 25th February ~ Marc’s Tree House Camp & Kruger National Park

Waterbuck

Waterbuck

Wild dogs

Wild dogs

Our last day in Kruger and as a parting gift we were given the chance to observe a pack of 17 Wild Dogs lounging on the road right in front of our car and then going on a half-hearted chase after the herd of impala. The dogs didn’t catch any of the impala, and it didn’t look like that mean the chase – most of the dogs I saw had full round bellies. The rest of the day continued as a variation on the “large groups of animals” theme. We saw a huge herd of African Buffalo – probably close to 100 individuals, a huge herd of Impala and a large herd of Zebra. Even Elephants came in large numbers. The most amazing site of the day however, was of a single animal – a male Leopard resting on a tree branch.. As we were driving around the park later in the day we saw another Leopard that crossed the road right in front of our car.

Elephant

Elephant

Buffalo

Buffalo

Impala herd

Impala herd

Other interesting animals we saw were White Rhino, Nile Crocodile and a Dwarf Mongoose. As usual we spotted a variety of birds in the park including: Crested Barbet, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Red-billed Oxepecker, Blue Waxbill, Grey Go-Away-Bird, Black-shouldered Kite, African Fish-Eagle, Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Ostrich, Egyptian Goose, Lappet-faced Volture, African Grey Hornbill, African Hoopoe, Jacobin Cuckoo, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Black Flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and Cape Turtle-Dove. And on the way back we saw the Wild Dogs again.

Wild dogs

Wild dogs

Chacma baboons

Chacma baboons

Crested barbet

Crested barbet

African grey hornbill

African grey hornbill

Tawny eagle

Tawny eagle

Blue waxbill

Blue waxbill

Blue waxbill

Blue waxbill

Crested francolinsDouble-barred-sandgrouseAmur FalconGrey-go-away-birdGrey-headed-parrotHelmeted guineafowlKori bustardWhite storkYellow-billed hornbill and his stick-insect dinner

Day 25: February 26th – Kruger Park ~ Johannesburg via Canyon via Blyde River Canyon

The Blyde River Canyon offers spectacular scenery. We drove past it four times during our travels in South Africa and we never had a chance to stop for some exploration. The wildlife is hard to spot from the lookout points, but we managed to find two species of lizards: Spotted Rock Lizard and Pungwe Flat Lizard

Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon

Spotted Rock Lizard

Spotted Rock Lizard

Pungwe Flat Lizard

Pungwe Flat Lizard

Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon

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2 Comments

  1. FalconBirder December 7, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    Hi there, Some very nice images here. Thanks for sharing them. Just thought I’d let you know that the small raptor labelled as Gabar Goshawk is actually an adult female Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis). Best regards, NPW

    • Margarita December 8, 2014 at 5:04 am #

      Thank you! Appreciate the heads-up

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