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Johannesburg to Malelane and Kruger National Park

We visited South Africa during the early months of 2002, taking the ‘A World In One Country’ tour with Saga.

We started from Johannesburg and ended the tour in Cape Town. The tour was very good, the Tour Manager was excellent and we enjoyed good company from our fellow travellers. We also found the South African people friendly, helpful and a delight to meet. The scenery was stunning and left us wanting to return to many parts of South Africa for a longer look.

We flew overnight to Johannesburg and were transferred by coach to the outskirts of Pretoria for our first night in South Africa. Although the Protea Waterfront Hotel is in an urban setting it overlooks a lake. In just a few minutes I was able to identify 11 species of birds, several of which I had never seen before.

The following day we headed East towards Kruger National Park. Our midday stop was at Dulstroom which is famed as a centre for fly fishing. At the Critchley Hackle Lodge we enjoyed lunch and a walk in the delightful grounds, by the side of the lake.

The lake at the Critchley Hackle Lodge.

A dragonfly on a plant at the edge of the lake.

We travelled on to Malelane for a two night stay in a lodge by the side of the Crocodile River, on the southern edge of Kruger. The next morning we were up early for a game drive in the National Park. We were only able to visit a very small part of Kruger on our game drive since this National Park has an area of nearly 2 million hectares and is 350 km from north to south.

Crocodile River from Malelane Lodge.

No crocodiles - but pleny of hippos.

A lizard seen from the Lodge viewing point.

A short way into Kruger NP we saw lion paw prints.

A group of giraffe provided our first good siting.

This male giraffe seemed very interested in us.

We had watched one giraffe for some minutes before we notice this young one.

Mother decided it was time to move.

Her youngster started to follow.

Like many youngsters, this one was curious and stopped to watch us.

We then had several good sightings of birds.
This colourful example is a european roller.

There are more than two dozen kingfishers in
southern Africa; this is a woodland kingfisher.

A crested bustard (korhaan) is difficult to see.

A tawny eagle has no need of camouflage.

In a tree were several southern ground hornbills.

Despite their name, they often perch in trees.

Wilderbeest, sometimes called gnu, always seem to look sorry for themselves.
This blue wilderbeest is no exception.

A three banded plover is a tiny, very smart bird.

This one seems to be admiring its reflection.

I was very excited to see this hamerkop, although it is quite a common bird.
Some years ago I had to sketch a hamerkop for the newsletter of Nottingham Local Group of the RSPB.
I did this, despite the fact that I had never seen one!

A plains (Burchell's/common) zebra.

As it turned to face us, its stripes confused our eyes.

Impala are common in game parks throughout South Africa and are also present in the wild in most of
the southern half of east Africa. This an adult male with well-developed horns.
Impala are sometimes called Macdonald‘s antelopes because three black stripes on the rump
seem to make a rounded letter M (like the Macdonald's logo).

This very tall antelope is a greater kudu.
It is reasonably common in southern Africa.

Adult males have horns with two turns in them.
This is a juvenile male.

This a warthog, a member of the swine or pig family.
Dark shapes in the grass suggest that this one is part of a family group.

During our full day in Kruger National Park we also saw the following identified species;

red billed hornbillgrey lourie (go-away bird)red billed oxpeckercrested francolin
white faced whistling duckwhite backed vulturelion §southern yellow billed hornbill
laughing dovering necked dovewhite rhinotree agama
Cape glossy starlingcarmine bee eatergreen backed heronsteenbok
lilac breasted rollerbateleurbrown hooded kingfisherAfrican elephant
pin tailed widowhippopied kingfisher

§ Unfortunately the male lion was in long grass and we could only see part of his mane.

To see photographs from the next stage of the tour, please click HERE.

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