Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Trip To Kruger National Park.

Although I have grown up in the Kruger National Park and still live less than an hours' drive away from one of the main entrance gates, I have not been to the Park in many,many years. A while ago I decided to book Cules and myself for overnight stays in two different locations in the Park for a weekend. I read the SAN Parks website and decided to make things really interesting like staying over in a Hide at Sable Dam, which my Dad, Jan Rademeyer, ( passed away 23 years ago) also worked on. Then I planned that we would go south down to Lower Sabie and Skukuza area rather than north as it is just so dry and depressing up there for my liking. I love green riverine bush,rivers,sand beds etc...very much more exciting!! On further investigation though, I discovered that you have to book Sable hide loooong in advance..so much so, in fact,that when I phoned to make our booking,the clerk said it was fully booked out a year in advance!!!  She told me to hold the call while she got us a date for next year ( I thought I could just as well book it then for next year sometime while I was making the call) I heard the clerk speaking to someone in the background...lots of computer clicking noises...and just as I was getting a bit impatient...she picked up the phone again and told me,that lo and behold, there had just that minute been a cancellation for Sable hide!!! I formally informed her that since I now had done the impossible, I needed another impossible thing done for me in that I wanted a luxury chalet for two in Lower Sabie the night following our Sable Hide adventure and that said chalet should be on the perimeter fence,with river view of course as my husband would love to sit and watch the hienas at night....she replied " hmmmm,just hold on one second please madam...." and after some more frantic clicking computer noises and background voices...she came back online telling me they indeed had one such chalet available for that Saturday night!!  Now,I have to say that Sable Hide was described as "very basic", no electricity,no lights...NOT A SINGLE ONE, no flushing toilets (a definite no-no to me,but it apparently had very decent eco something or other toilets....! There is no one else for miles around,it is just you and the bush and the dark of night at Sable Hide..The hide can sleep up to 9 people and I booked it for just the two of us. No friends invited,no family invited..sometimes you need a break away like that and in our case it would have to be me who takes charge and organise s such a weekend.

So as the weeks became days and days hours before our great escape,I had to constantly remind the husband not to agree to go and visit this friend or do that for a customer or go help his boss at work with something that weekend..So we managed to leave home at 3 pm instead of 12 o clock as a client insisted on wanting his motorbike delivered before the weekend...and ooooofffff we went!! Stopped by some or other Dragon or something for Sushi for me for dinner and at Steers for Cules for ribs and chips for dinner. Got organised by the Phalaborwa Gate and into the Park we went...Sable Hide was not far in at all but one has to drive so slowly in the Park that it took a little while to get there...many elephant sightings later...that's when I remembered my Sedatif PC tablets still lying on the coffee table waiting for me to pick them up and lovingly put them in my purse....! As we arrived at the Hide we liked it very much except for the flimsy little poles around the hide and the toilets were a bit to far away from the Hide for my liking,although they were situated inside the "stockade" We went inside the Hide,made the beds up first before it got dark,settled in and whipped out the cocktails and food.Night started closing in very quickly and Cules built us a nice cosy fire...we sat there waiting to hear lion,hiena,elephant and the like...instead it was eerily quiet..I was quite confident that there wasn't any lion near us as there was a whole herd of impala settling in for the night right by the entrance to the Hide. I wondered if my Dad also sat on that particular spot watching the impala all those years ago when they built this dam. We turned in quite early and slept very well except for once when I heard a loud "thump" like something jumping onto the deck of the Hide.... Cules heard lion very far away at around 1 am and woke me up...we sat staring at the water trying to see any nightlife but didn't see or hear anything nearby. Next morning we were up super early and away on the great adventure at 4:30! We stopped by Letaba,Olifants and Satara rest camps as we made our way to Lower Sabie. It was a most awesome day as we saw all of the Big 5 except for leopard. We were also blessed with lovely cool weather but no rain so the animals were really out and about.

 Young Kudu bull.


Our cheese platter lunch.

This horn bill shared our lunch with us...he was so tame he took food from our hands..


The famous bridge at Skukuza...


Lovely statue at Skukuza.


White rhino


Bush buck ewe and lamb


Baboon youngsters grooming each other on the verge of the road..

Giant Kingfisher near Lower Sabie.


Seen any lion or leopard perhaps dude??


 Damage done by elephants...

This old elephant bull had a special air about him..I could sit and watch him for hours just sleeping there under the trees with two askaris watching over him...


Maybe this hippo scratched his bum and fell asleep while doing so...


On this stretch of road near the river we saw many,many elephant, a lot of little groups huddled under the shade of huge Jackalberry trees.

Game ranger vehicle coming past us quite fast..maybe on a call out for poachers???


Luvely mud bath...


Hippo having a leisurely day....


A bit sad to see this huge elephant skull right next to the road.

We also saw a rhino skull..it looked like a dinosaur skull...

Lone lioness and her cub.


I could sit for hours watching these baboons feeding on sugar bush blossoms..must taste delicious as they were absolutely gorging themselves.


A refreshing drink.


 Impala joining the feast.


Totally pre ocuppied by this delicacy...


This elephant just suddenly appeared out of now where but was apparently late for a pedicure appointment....

He said he would charge our car next time he sees us....


We were allowed to get out of our vehicles at this look out point in the middle of a bridge.


 Egyptian geese.

My Africa....

Hello, Mr tortoise.

We saw loads of them on the Olifants/Satara road!


Deceptive, but this was still a rather fresh kill lying right under the bridge...a couple of days old maybe..


View at Olifants Camp .

Placid bull elephant behaving himself....


Placid bull elephant FARTING in Cules' face!

Look closely at the folds of skin by his hmmm,......it flabbers when he farts!!

My husband was dumbstruck...we got a fright when the bull let loose...we were already a little bit nervous of him being so near our car and then he went and did that...I am sure he snickered as he walked into the bush...

Beautiful fat zebra..I have yet to see a thin one..


Fish Eagle and Marabou stork eyeing each other just outside Letaba Restcamp.


Another placid bull elephant..


A herd of buffalo....


This little calf made a mock charge at the white car...then pretended to be frightened and squeeled and ran off....which caused his mother to mock charge the car as well.....I was glad not to be in the white car!!

I told you we saw lots of elephant!


The entrance on one side of Sable Hide,it has another entrance right on the opposite end as well..


Our vehicle parked inside the "stockade" at Sable Hide.
Total darkness..
Just you and the African night..

The End

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Profesional Hunters Licences For Us Both!

 Well,who would have thunk??? Today 2 weeks ago I went to drop of my husband to do his Professional Hunters license course. I dropped him off late in the afternoon at the Selati Game Reserve. While waiting for the other prospective P.H 's, we got to talking to the director of the Hunting School and it wasn't long before he asked me why I wasn't doing the course with my husband....I said I don't like killing animals and mumbled something about the astronomical fees involved in doing it and what would we be eating until payday and we never organised anything about supervising on the farm and I haven't got enough  knowledge on weapons and ammunition and bush craft and..and...and....  I said my goodbyes to Cules and left in a hurry,but had no sooner left the Reserve when my phone rang and I saw it was Cules calling me...I warily answered the phone and low and behold it was "go pack your bags and report for class at 6 o clock tomorrow morning!" I said "I can't leave Minki for a week,there is just no way" To which he replied that he had already gotten special permission for her to come with for the duration of the course!

 The entrance to the Selati Private Reserve we used to access our camp.

And so starts another adventure of a lifetime for me!

Totally unplanned and totally unforgettable!

The Lodge where we stayed.

Minki had herself a good old time keeping the vervet monkeys at bay!

She was absolutely fascinated by the squirrels and would lay quietly watching them all day if necessary while we had our lectures in the "classroom."

I was petrified of her being taken by a leopard or hiena at night as they were prowling around the campsite every night with fresh "spoor" seen every morning as we left at 6 o clock for target practise at the shooting range!

I also only found out after walking alone to our chalet at night for a couple of nights in a row, that the gates to our camp wasn't necessarily closed every night!!

Needless to say,after that,I made sure to be escorted to the chalet every night by Cules! 


The classroom in the background and the camp fireplace where we spent every single night telling and listening to, campfire stories...

As we left,after the course,we realised we never once watched television,there wasn't one, and never even realised or missed it...at all!!

In between taking turns at the shooting range we discovered who had the biggest and smallest(yours truly) feet...


During one of our bush craft sessions , we were amused by this young elephant bull's antics!

Look at the swag!!

Very important at this age!

I AM THE MAN swag!


Female giraffe,look at the way the horns bend "in" slightly.


We went to see the vulture restaurant...

What an amazing sight to see these huge birds!


The bird on the lower right has a yellow transmitter attached to its wing..

Research has shown that these birds fly from Kimberley in the Cape to our area in just two days!!


There were at least three different species of vultures present....


Cute buffalo calves and not so cute cows!!

Most dangerous when they have calves around!


This Sable called De La Rey had the longest horns in South Africa but has since moved down the list a bit apparently....

The bull never mingles with the herd but stands aloof,apart from the herd..except when it's breeding time.

Very strange to see...


I was so fortunate to see these rhinos up close.

They moved very quietly and we could hear the little stones crunch under their feet as they moved along...I will never forget that sound...


Moving away,crunch,crunch,crunch...


We then went to visit the lions.

My camera's batteries were dying on me and so I didn't get to take a lot of pictures.

These were the young males

There was also a separate camp with 2 young 18 month old cubs in it and we were allowed to go in with them....except me,the owner told me as I was too small, (short) like a child,I would trigger the hunting instinct in them and they would target in on me in "attack mode!!!

Even though he said that to me,other people could not wait to get in with them!!

I stood quietly back and to my surprise my husband and the Hunting School Director also opted not to go in...

On asking him why he wasn't going in, the Director said to  me..

 " They are kept in a camp,but they are,and always will be,wild animals with an instinct to kill"

As I stood back observing the young lions,it quickly became apparent,that they were checking out everyone in there with them,summing them up and choosing possible targets..one lady in particular was told to keep her back to the fence(as was everyone) for that matter...but they quickly managed to get one or two people away from the rest and almost jumped on one man from behind..not long after, the lady bent down to tie up a shoe lace and they were both on her in an instant....luckily no damage done as their owner was on them in a hear beat and they were young and playful.

But,if anyone ever asked my advice,I would say..never,ever be tempted to go in an pet a wild animal...

Observe from a safe place,enjoy them,but accept that they are just that....wild.

Well,at the end of the course I am happy to say that both Cules and I passed our exams and are now registered and licensed Professional Hunters!

I have learned so much and appreciate the Game Industry a whole lot more than I ever could have imagined!

The End