About Me

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Dreaming of Africa
I am married, a lifelong musician, somewhat competent photographer, and world traveler. Having been around for over 60 years, I have lots of "stuff" floating around inside my head that is screaming to get out.


All photos and text on this blog are copyright 2008-2010 Norman Arnett, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted. All content not owned is used with permission and is also protected by copyright.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kruger day 4 - oh my god!

So far we have seen the big five, a whole lot of birds, small cats, large cats, and tons of other things, but we were not prepared for Lower Sabie.

We arrived at Lower Sabie camp late in the day, checked in and headed to our cottage on the perimeter. After dinner we took the spotting scope to the bench near the fence, watching birds and Hippos until dark, then we watched bats for a while before climbing in bed so we could wake up for our early morning game drive, little did we know what was in store for us.

4:00 AM came early, but after a light breakfast and some tea we were at the meeting area and off on our next adventure. Our small group piled into one of the big safari vehicles and we headed north along the Lower Sabie River. A little north of Sunset Dam, our driver got a radio call from the rangers who were leading the morning game walk. One of their guests had mistakenly placed her camera in our vehicle. They caught up a short time later and we gave them the camera. Their delay gave us the opportunity for a once in a lifetime sighting.

We continued north and turned around at the Causeway after getting another radio call that was too faint to make out. Our guide said we should go to find them in case they were having problems. Back past the camp and onto the S29, the Mlondozi Loop. About five km in we saw something on the right. Oh My God - Six Cheetah! a Mom and her five babies!

She had just killed an Impala and they were having breakfast.

This little guy was very curious and walked toward us to check us out.

We decided he should be named Elvis, because of his sneer!

This was amazing, we were alone with this great sighting, how could it get any better?The only sounds were mom and kids chirping, the wind blowing, a light rain coming down, and cameras clicking. Then movement from the left, another Cheeteh, NO TWO CHEETAH! coming in slowly, then rushing in at the last moment. What was going to happen, were the babies at risk? Not a sound has made from our vehicle as the two males approached and encircled the female, a little argument, the kids ran a short distance away, and mom finally gave up the Impala to "Will and Harry". (We didn't name them, they had aleady been given the Royal names by the Rangers at Lower Sabie). We watched as Will and Harry kept leaving the Impala and harassing Mom and the Kids. Tricia was getting annoyed with them and wanted to "go kick their butts" for stealing the Impala.
Finally mom and the kids made a hasty retreat and were gone. I will never forget Eight Cheetah at once.After that it was back to camp and the laundry room to wash clothes. Laundry, what an exciting way to end an unbelievable morning game drive!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kruger Day 3 Letaba to Lower Sabie

Our night drive at Letaba was a night for little discoveries. We saw Civet, Genet, African Wild Cat and Cerval, which was a treat. Seeing all four of these cats in a short span was fun. In addition to the small cats we saw a few Giraffe, Elephant, and various Antelope before returning to camp.

Day three was our long haul day, Letaba to Lower Sabie. We left shortly after 6 and made a quick stop at the Letaba River bridge before heading south. Just a few km south of Letaba we spotted a pair of Hyena laying under a bush very close to the road. While we watched a number of cars drove by, but one stopped next to us and said that the pair have a den under the road and that they have pups (or is it kits?) in the den, that they bring out usually later in the day. Unfortunately, we had places to go, so weren't able to get any baby Hyena shots.

A little further down the road we joined a parade.

A number of lazy lion sightings, they are sure boring, and hard to get a good shot when they are sleeping. Finally not too far north of Tshokwane we were able to get a good shot of a Lion. We stopped to watch Vultures in a tree and caught movement on the other side of the road. A lone lioness with a kill, she seemed to have eaten her fill and after a few minutes walked to some tall grass 10 or 12 meters away to lay down. As soon as she laid down a single Hyena appeared and started trying to locate the kill, after 5 minutes or so, he had come close but all of a sudden a male lion appeared.

It was really funny watching how the posture and attitude of the Hyena changed when the male showed up. The hyena wouldn't look at him and started walking away, then broke into a run to get out of there.After a break at Tshokwane, we took the H10 to get to Lower Sabie. What a glorious drive, and the view from the top of the mountain is spectacular.Getting close to Lower Sabie we came upon a few cars watching two Lions at a Giraffe Kill, the Lion were sleeping in tall grass, and most of the action was a group of Vultures picking up scraps. After watching for a while we continued on to Lower Sabie and settled in for the night.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Africa 2009 - Kruger National Park day two

After a short night's sleep we planned to leave the gate at 6am. Well, that didn't happen. We had a light breakfast on the porch and got caught up watching all of the birds, that led to a drive back to the restaurant and an hour watching birds at the dam.

When we finally left Mopani we drove the Tropic of Capricorn Loop and then headed south towards Letaba.
Here are a few of the things we saw along the Loop:

This is a juvenile Wahlberg's Eagle, he didn't move a muscle while I took my photos.

A Slender Mongoose posed so that I could get a good shot.

This Hornbill kept us laughing while we watched him searching for food, and chasing off the other birds that got too close.

This mom and two little ones were part of a large group of over 25 Ellies.

All this and more just on a 22 mile (36km) loop, More later from the H1-6 road to Letaba Camp!

We already miss Kruger, and can't wait to return!

Africa 2009 - Kruger National Park day one

We have been home since September 26, and I am finally getting around to starting our trip report. We have adjusted back to Pacific Time, here on the west coast of America, but both would prefer to still be in SA. One week in Kruger is not enough, so we are planning a return next year for two weeks.
I have been wading through photos (around 2000) to find those I would like to share. We arrived in Jo'Berg on 13 September, rented our vehicle and drove to Gravelotte, where we were booked for a week long Wildlife Rehabilitation course taught by Karen Trendler. After our course, we drove to Phalaborwa to begin our week in paradise.
For our first visit, we wanted to see a lot of territory, and bit off a little more than we should have. We stayed at five different camps in six days, and spent much of our time driving from one camp to the next. We'll know better next time, and plan to book 4 or 5 nights each in three different camps.
Not too far inside the gate, we spotted a number of bull Ellies on our left, and while watching them we almost passed this fellow,who was only a few feet away, without seeing him.

The rest of our drive to Mopani Camp was filled with birds, Giraffe, Zebra, Impala, Cape Buffalo, more Ellies, Klipspringer, Gyrsbok, Kudu and amazing vista's and landscape.

By the time we rolled into Mopani we were in seventh heaven. We tossed our bags into our cottage and made it back to reception in time for an evening game drive. Our first Baobab, more birds ,Buffs, Zebra, antelope and various birds. No cats, but we did get to see a Black backed Jackal. We made it back to camp, had dinner in the restaurant and went to bed, completely worn out but excited and anticipating another wonderful day of discovery.
More Later.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time Zone Time Warp

Here it is almost two weeks since we got home from our 2009 African adventure and I am just getting my internal clock set back to Pacific Daylight time. Our 26 hour flight home took it out of me, and I have been trying to catch back up since we returned. The Torti clan is happy we are home, and we are glad to be here.

I am still wading through photos, but decided I should get started telling everyone about our amazing journey.

After hop scotching from Seattle to Vancouver to London, and finally to Johannesburg, we dragged ourselves into the Hertz rental office at the airport and picked up the keys to our SUV. A Kia Sportage was our trusty steed for our two week stay, and it didn't fail us, successfully battling the traffic, Elephants and Cape Buffalo to get us to our numerous destinations and back to the airport in Johannesburg without a scratch.

Our first destination was SanWild, an animal rescue and rehabilitation Preserve near Kruger National Park. Sanwild is where we spent our first week, attending a Wildlife Rehabilitation course. More about SanWild in another post, though I will say that they are a dedicated group doing great things on a small budget.

After our week at SanWild, we packed up and headed to Kruger, arriving in Phalaborwa Saturday mid-day. After a stop at the SPAR grocery for supplies we drove through the gate into a wonderland. One of our first sightings was a group of Elephant on the left side of the road. Tricia wanted a better look and asked me to back up a little bit. As I was backing up something caught my eye to the right.

I still can't figure out how I didn't see this giant when I drove by him the first time. He was massive, and about twenty feet away.

We continued on to Mopani rest camp where we had reservations for our first night. At Mopani we had booked an evening game drive, and by the time we got to the camp it was time to go on the drive. Lots of Impala, Elephant and Cape Buffalo to be seen, a few other Antelope and a lone Jackal but not much more. We finished the drive unpacked our bags grabbed a bite in the restaurant and hit the sack looking forward to more adventure in the morning.