Lazy Drives in Kruger National Park, South Africa - Self-Drive Safaris


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There is a plane leaving Bangalore direct flight to Cape Town on Friday at 06h00 your time. I will pick you up at Cape Town International upon your arrival. Don't forget your camera equipment and your book of photographic secrets.
” …a casual remark from my South African friend, Tony from another forum a year ago started it all.

For my wife and me, a trip to Africa was always a dream. When my friend told me about Sanparks accommodations inside Kruger National Park, self-drive safaris, we got excited and started researching for the trip.
Planning started around September 2016. The plan was to reach the park on the 31st of August 2017 and leave the park on the 13th of September 2017.

First did a search for flights to Johannesburg from Chennai and found Saudi Arabian Airlines had cost effective flights – costing around 65k round trip for the 2 of us. We were surprised that it was so low.
Our friend had told us that around September was the best time to visit Kruger for game viewing as it was the fag end of winter, which means less water, more game near available waterbodies, no Mosquitos, less vegetation – easier viewing, no rains, not hot, etc.

With consultation with him, we zeroed in on four camps to spend 13 nights inside the park. We blocked the accommodation first as soon as it was open for reservation for this year. They get booked so fast, so better to be safe than sorry. The accommodation costs us around 92k. All the accommodations were with AC, fridge, kitchenette, microwave, toaster, kettle, and utensils.

The next step was to getting my wife’s passport renewed. That took some time as she is a government employee and she had to get proper NOC and other stuffs. That was done in March this year.
We bought the air tickets in May. We also paid half of the booking amount for the accommodation.
We then applied for South African VISA through VFS @ Bangalore. It was pretty straight forward. We got our passports with the VISA stamped by the end of June.

Then there was a change in the flight timings that we were not comfortable with and had to change our booking. So it was Bangalore-Jeddah-Johannesburg instead of Chennai-Jeddah-Johannesburg. And it cost us around 20k more.

Now, we had planned to do our own safaris in a self-drive rental car. The park is around 360 kms from Johannesburg. We rented a Toyota Corella Quest from Avis with unlimited kilometers and Zero liabilities with roadside assistance for the whole trip. Cost us around 33k. Pickup and drop at the Johannesburg airport. The car we got was neat with around 25k on the odo.

For mobile connectivity, we got one local Vodacom sim online from the site B4iTravel. I even got the mobile number 15 days before the travel and was to collect the sim from their outlet at the airport. Additionally, I also got the Tsim’ life time validity world sim. That also got delivered weeks before the travel.

Since everything was paid for before our travel, I didn’t take local currency. Instead I opted for ICICI World Travel card. I was watching the currency trend and loaded the card when the rates were 5 rupees to a Rand. Used the card for all the local purchases including petrol.

We did our own cooking. We bought groceries from Spar super market on the way to the park. Stocked up with long life milk, eggs, oil, bread, some veggies, etc. We took our own cooking utensils like the pressure cooker, frying pans, ladles, and a lot of Tupperware containers. We also took spices, rice, some noodles, soups, etc.

The cameras we took were, Nikon D90/18-105mm, Nikon D7100/70-300mm, Nikon D500/200-500+1:4TC, and a Panasonic camcorder.

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D7100/70-300mm, f/5.3, 1/500, ISO120 @ 240mm


[to be cont.]
 
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I'm waiting for this TL from very long and finally it is here now[clap]

Wish to hear your experiences about the trip and waiting for tons of pics.

Let me know your next to visit Chennai/Vellore, So that we can meet for sure[:)]
 
Thread Starter #3
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I'm waiting for this TL from very long and finally it is here now[clap]

Wish to hear your experiences about the trip and waiting for tons of pics.

Let me know your next to visit Chennai/Vellore, So that we can meet for sure[:)]
Hi Vinoth! I just drove back from Chennai this morning. A very short visit to Chennai - one night halt. I was in a hurry to reach back, so I didn't call you. Will call you up later.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Counting months turned to counting days and finally on the 30th of August 2017, we boarded the flight to Jeddah. We had to wait in Jeddah for around 6 hours for our onward flight to Johannesburg. Though the flight to Johannesburg was cramped and uncomfortable, I managed to get a few winks which was necessary as I had to drive all the way to Kruger on arrival.

The plane arrived around 1 hour late ( 8:45am, 31th August), and we walked through the immigration, collected our checked in luggage and walked through the customs, collected our sim card and got our car. Once we started out we didn't get our mobile GPS or internet on as we were in a closed place. Took a wrong turn and immediately understood our mistake and drove around 1km till we could get internet and a GPS lock. From then on, GPS took over and got us back on track in no time and we were on our way.

The traffic was very orderly and it was a pleasure driving there. The people we met in the Airport were also very friendly.

Kruger National Park is about the size of Israel. So with 14 days we new that we wouldn't be able to cover the whole park. So we decided on the southern part of the park.

The 4 camp that we picked were the Pretoriuskop, Satara, Lower Sabie and Skukuza.

The gate we chose for entry was the Numbi Gate. Our first camp, Pretoriuskop was just 9 kms from the gate. We reached the camp around 3:30pm. The park and the camp gates close at 6 pm. We finished the formalities at the gate and proceeded to the camp.

On the way to the camp...


Black-backed Puffback...

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Glossy Starling...

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Plains Zebra...

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[to be cont.]
 
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We were very tired after the long flight and so just settled down in our bungalow and decided to take some rest. Anyway we can be out in the bush only between 6 am to 6 pm. It was almost 5 by the time we settled in.

The next day we packed our breakfast we out in the bush by 6:15 am. We drove around some dirt roads (the circle route) in the morning and returned to the camp for lunch.



Impala male...
The impala (/ɪmˈpɑːləˌ-ˈpælə/; Aepyceros melampus) is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. They are very common and can be found everywhere. They cross our path in hundreds and sometimes we have to wait around 5 minutes for a large herd to cross over.

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Impala female...

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Red-billed Ox-pecker...on an Impala
The red-billed oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) is a passerine bird in the starling and myna family, Sturnidae; some ornithologists regard the oxpeckers to be in a family by themselves, the Buphagidae. It is native to the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa, from the Central African Republic east to South Sudan and south to northern and eastern South Africa. Its range overlaps that of the less widespread yellow-billed oxpecker.

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Where there are impalas, we find these Fork-tailed Drongos around

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Warthog...
The common warthog is a medium-sized species, with a head-and-body length ranging from 0.9 to 1.5 m, and shoulder height from 63.5 to 85 cm. Females, at 45 to 75 kg, are typically a bit smaller and lighter in weight than males, at 60 to 150 kg. A warthog is identifiable by the two pairs of tusks protruding from the mouth and curving upwards. The lower pair, which is far shorter than the upper pair, becomes razor-sharp by rubbing against the upper pair every time the mouth is opened and closed. The upper canine teeth can grow to 25.5 cm long and have a wide elliptical cross section, being about 4.5 cm deep and 2.5 cm wide. A tusk will curve 90° or more from the root, and will not lie flat on a table, as it curves somewhat backwards as it grows. The tusks are used for digging, for combat with other hogs, and in defense against predators – the lower set can inflict severe wounds.

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[to be cont.]
 
Thread Starter #5
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Doing self safari without any guide is thrilling. We get to spot the wildlife by ourselves and we can go where we please and stop and enjoy a sight for however long we want. The only issue was the limited angle of view from the driver's seat of a sedan. At times I had to pass a sighting and take a U turn to get into position for a good view.

Waterbuck...
Waterbuck are rather sedentary in nature. A gregarious animal, the waterbuck may form herds consisting of six to 30 individuals. These groups are either nursery herds with females and their offspring or bachelor herds. Males start showing territorial behaviour from the age of five years, but are most dominant from the age of six to nine. The waterbuck cannot tolerate dehydration in hot weather, and thus inhabits areas close to sources of water. Predominantly a grazer, the waterbuck is mostly found on grassland. In equatorial regions, breeding takes place throughout the year, but births are at their peak in the rainy season. The gestational period lasts for seven to eight months, followed by the birth of a single calf.


Waterbuck inhabit scrub and savanna areas along rivers, lakes and valleys. Due to their requirement for grasslands as well as water, the waterbuck have a sparse ecotone distribution. The IUCN lists the waterbuck as being of Least Concern. More specifically, the common waterbuck is listed as of Least Concern while the defassa waterbuck is Near Threatened. The population trend for both the common and defassa waterbuck is downwards, especially that of the latter, with large populations being eliminated from certain habitats because of hunting and human disturbance.

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[to be cont.]
 
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More from the Pretoriuskop area...

Crested Barbet...

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Golden-breasted Bunting...

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Lilac-breasted Roller...

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Black-collared Barbet...

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Dwarf Mongoose...

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Trying to get into a locked tent...

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Laughing Dove...

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Bushbuck...

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[to be cont.]
 
Thread Starter #7
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We just had one day for exploring the area around Pretoriouskop. We had to be back in camp before they close the gate at 6 pm.

More of what we saw that day.

African Dusky Flycatcher...
The African dusky flycatcher, dusky-brown flycatcher or dusky alseonax, Muscicapa adusta, is a small passerine bird of the Old World flycatcher family, Muscicapidae. It is a resident breeder in Africa from Nigeria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ethiopia south to South Africa. It is very common in its woodland habitat, which includes riverine forests, evergreen forest edges and clearings, especially near water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams, and well-wooded suburban garden.

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Karrichane Thrush...
The Kurrichane thrush (Turdus libonyana) is a species of bird in the family Turdidae. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitat is dry savanna. Its name is derived from Kaditshwene (rendered as 'Kurrichane') in Botswana.

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Dark-capped Bulbul...

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Vervet Monkey...
The vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), or simply vervet, is an Old World monkey of the family Cercopithecidae native to Africa. The term "vervet" is also used to refer to all the members of the genus Chlorocebus. The five distinct subspecies can be found mostly throughout Southern Africa, as well as some of the eastern countries. Vervets were introduced to Florida, Ascension Island, and Cape Verde. These mostly herbivorous monkeys have black faces and grey body hair color, ranging in length from about 50 centimetres for males to about 40 centimetres for females.

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Go-away bird...

The grey go-away-bird (Corythaixoides concolor), also known as grey lourie, grey loerie, or kwêvoël, is a bold and common bird of the southern Afrotropics. They are present in arid to moist, open woodlands and thorn savanna, especially near surface water. They regularly form groups and parties that forage in tree tops, or dust bathe on the ground. Especially when disturbed, make their presence known by their characteristically loud and nasal "kweh" or "go-way" calls, with the last syllable typically a descending drawl.

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African Hoopoe...

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Scarlet-chested Sunbird...

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Helmeted Guinea Fowl...

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Hippo...

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[to be cont.]
 
Thread Starter #10
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Wow!
Stunning Pictures HR..

Nothing but Spellbound!!!
Thank you very much, Ram! I see that your location shows Bangalore. We should meet sometime. :))


hooked. another masterpiece in the making.
Ha ha! Nothing compared to the epic trip you made with Ram. I envy you guys. :))



Our bungalow at Pretoriuskop. The accomodations are arranged in a circular pattern and each bungalow has it's own car park and a Braai (barbeque) area with lot of space in the middle. They also have camping areas which are fully utilized by the locals.

video grabs...
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We started our drive towards Satara, some 140 kms away. We had packed our breakfast and lunch. Though the road between the camps are black topped and in great condition, we did get into some gravel road along the way to checkout some waterholes and dams.


Wahlbergs Eagle...

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Egyptian Goose...

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Blacksmith Lapwing...
The blacksmith lapwing or blacksmith plover (Vanellus armatus) occurs commonly from Kenya through central Tanzania to southern and southwestern Africa. The vernacular name derives from the repeated metallic 'tink, tink, tink' alarm call, which suggests a blacksmith's hammer striking an anvil.

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Crocodiles... they were common sight near water bodies. In some places we can drive right up to them.

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[to be cont.]
 
Thread Starter #12
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HR iam impressed by your knowledge about the various animal and birds.
Not what you think SR. Whenever I see something new, I search the internet to learn about it and when I post a picture here I share what I find so it will be helpful for the viewers.


Road to Satara Camp

Lilac-breasted Roller... one of the birds on our wish-list
The lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus) is an African member of the roller family of birds. It is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula, preferring open woodland and savanna; it is largely absent from treeless places. Usually found alone or in pairs, it perches conspicuously at the tops of trees, poles or other high vantage points from where it can spot insects, lizards, scorpions, snails, small birds and rodents moving about at ground level. [wikipedia]

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Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill... also called The Flying Banana by the locals
The southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) is a hornbill found in southern Africa. Yellow-billed hornbills feed mainly on the ground, where they forage for seeds, small insects, spiders and scorpions. This hornbill species is a common and widespread resident of dry thornveldt and broad-leafed woodlands. They can often be seen along roads and water courses. [wikipedia]

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African Grey Hornbill...
The African grey hornbill occurs throughout the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa it is locally common in a wide range of wooded savannas and woodland. It eats animals, such as birds eggs and nestlings, insects, rodents and frogs, but it also occasionally eats small fruit.

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Magpie Shrike... pretty common over there
The magpie shrike is found in Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It inhabits open savannah with scattered acacia trees, close-grazed turf and bare ground, in parts of southern and central Africa where precipitation mainly occurs between November and April. Arid areas are avoided but semi-arid areas may be favoured. It also occurs in woodland, particularly riparian areas, and in the Kruger National Park is found in river valleys with thorny mopane trees. [wikipedia]

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Blue Wilderbeast
...

The blue wildebeest is native to Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Today it is extinct in Malawi, but has been successfully reintroduced in Namibia. The southern limit of the blue wildebeest range is the Orange River, while the western limit is bounded by Lake Victoria and Mt Kenya. The blue wildebeest is widespread and is being introduced into private game farms, reserves and conservancies. For this reason, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) rates the blue wildebeest as being of Least Concern. The population has been estimated to be around one and a half million and the population trend is stable. [wikipedia]

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On the way to Satara...

Red-billed Southern Hornbill...
(also called flying chilli locally)
They are omnivorous, taking insects, fruit and seeds. They feed mainly on the ground and will form flocks outside the breeding season.

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Burchell's starling...
Burchell's starling or Burchell's glossy-starling (Lamprotornis australis) is a species of starling in the family Sturnidae. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The name of this bird commemorates the English naturalist William John Burchell.

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Giant Plated Lizard...
The giant plated lizard (Gerrhosaurus validus) is a lizard of the Gerrhosauridae family, which is found in boulder-strewn hills, outcrops or other rocky terrain in dry to mesic habitats of southern Africa. They are wary and stay close to their rocky retreats.

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