Monday, 6 June, 2011
Game Drives from Bateleur

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Bateleur gate

Left camp at 6:05 a.m., our earliest start yet. So early, in fact, that we had to open the gate ourselves. It looks locked, but there's just a removable loop of chain holding the gate closed.

Our short route this morning: southern S52 west, Red Rocks Loop (looking for leopards), across the Shingwedzi riverbed to the northern S52 west and back to camp. No cats, but we saw another black-backed jackal, a large kudu, a different kind of antelope, a nyala, which resembles a kudu, and a tiny antelope called a Sharpe's grysbok.


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Nice rack!

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Sharpe's grysbok

There were also several giraffes, some baboons, a pair of African fish-eagles, a pair of saddle-billed storks, and, right outside camp, several extra-large elephants.

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Curious giraffes

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Big tusker

We were back at Bateleur by 9:15. Tom and I took a walk around camp, not having gotten much of a look during our nighttime exploration. Unlike Talamati, which was close to a Kruger gate, enabling most of the staff to leave each night, Bateleur is far from any park exit, so it has extensive crew quarters. Consequently, even though Bateleur houses the fewest guests, it's much larger overall than Talamati.

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Our cottage at Bateleur

On our walk, we saw turtles sunning themselves at the hide waterhole, the first life we'd seen there, and a cute little skink running in and out of the fence.

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Animal hide, Bateleur

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I like turtles

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Variable skink

At 11:15 Tom and I went out on another drive, just the two of us this time. Our route: northern S52, H1-6/H1-7 north, H1-7/H1-6 south, southern S52, Red Rocks loop, across the Shingwedzi riverbed to the northern 52 and back to Bateleur.

Notable animals on the S52 were multiple giraffes, another chameleon crossing the road, and then a great group of vultures. There was no carrion present, so I don't know what the vulture get-together was about. At one point we saw some South Africans outside their vehicle at an unauthorized location, so then we were compelled to leave our car a couple of unauthorized times too.

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Venue of vultures

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Tom being Tom

On the H1-7 we waited a long distance back as a herd of elephants crossed the road, while other vehicles waited much closer. Then when we passed the elephants a few minutes later, one of them trumpeted angrily at our car. How rude! We'd done just what we were supposed to. That was an ill-tempered elephant!

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Elephant droppings

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Baobab near Bateleur

We returned to camp at 3:15, had a beer, picked up Linda, and at 4:00 headed for Rooibosant Dam, which we again had all to ourselves. There were several hippos tonight and one crocodile that we watched swim around for a long time, hoping he'd do something interesting. At 5:25 we whooshed back into camp, and they closed the gate behind us.

This is our last night in Kruger and our last night of self-catering, so I dumped most all the food we had left into a pot, fried it up, and called it dinner. I cooked up bite-sized chunks of beef, poured in a can of corn and a can of kidney beans, added a diced tomato, and there you go. It was good. Tom and I mixed in the last of our chakalaka, and it was even better. And a bottle of South African cabernet sauvignon to toast our time at Kruger made it better still.

The high today was 88 degrees. Our car had a thermometer in it that gave the temperature in Celsius, but I've converted the temperature throughout this journal to Fahrenheit for the benefit of our American brains. Any in-room temperatures were gathered from the thermometer on my travel alarm, which requires no conversion.

Tomorrow's going to be a long day, so I went to bed at 9:00. We need to be up and out of here as early as we possibly can.

Continue to June 7, 2011

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