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South Africa (August 2019)

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Old Monday 21st October 2019, 20:05   #1
arodris
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South Africa (August 2019)

Hello everyone:

Last August I used my vacations to visit South Africa. Undoubtedly a country with an incredible variety, where I could enjoy with up to 240 species of birds and about 40 of mammals. The trip had two distinct parts. The first one was centered around Cape Town, an area whose predominant ecosystem is known as fynbos, a shrubby plant formation with an abundance of proteas and ericas. In addition, because it is a coastal area, one can find birds corresponding to that environment. Boat trips leave from this area both to see pelagic birds and to see white shark or southern right whale. Unfortunately, bad weather prevented all those boat trips, but in return we were able to visit other equally interesting areas.

The second part of the trip was focused on the eastern part of the country, from Isimangaliso, a wetland that is a World Heritage Site, passing through Esuatini (formerly Swaziland), until reaching the well-known Kruger National Park. Of course I left large areas without visiting, from the Karoo area, almost deserted, to the one known as the Garden Route, on the south coast of the country, each with their own endemisms. Without doubt, both ecosystems deserve a future visit.

To organize the trip I regularly used the highly recommended blogs (sorry, in spanish) from Paco Chiclana (for both areas) (http://elblogdepacochiclana.blogspot...el-cabo-y.html) and Daniel García (mainly for Kruger, with an impressive description of all the days they were there; here I leave only his last entry, but you can easily search for the remaining ones) (https://avistadepajaros. wordpress.c...os-de-interes/).

From my part, and for the moment I have made a series of entries corresponding to the area around Cape Town. Here, I leave you them in case anyone can be interested to organize future trips. Later I will add those corresponding to the eastern part of the country.

1. Cape Town and West Coast National Park
2. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and west coast of Cape Peninsula
3. Boulders Beach
4. Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (Table Mountain National Park)
5. Sir Lowry's Pass
6. Stony Point Nature Reserve (Betty's Bay)
7. Hermanus
8. De Hoop Nature Reserve
9. Agulhas Plains

Below you can see some pictures of a blue crane, fiscal flycatcher, african penguin, common eland and orange-breasted sunbird. More pictures can be found in the above links, together with the locations of the visited areas.
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Old Sunday 27th October 2019, 03:23   #2
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Very informative report. I'm waiting for the next step.

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Old Sunday 27th October 2019, 08:25   #3
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Nice,
can't believe you didn't see Cape Vulture at De Hoop?
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 20:03   #4
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You are right, Andy,

I was not lucky with cape vultures in the reserve itself. However I saw some of them in the road that leads to the reserve, few km before the entrance.

This is the list in ebird for that road (and the approximate location): https://ebird.org/checklist/S58968408

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Old Tuesday 19th November 2019, 18:33   #5
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Hi again,

Next step was iSimasalingo Wetland Park, a really nice place, and not a very busy one:

10. iSimasalingo Wetland Park.

iSimangaliso is the third largest protected area in South Africa, and was the first World Heritage Site in this country, declared in 1999. It is located on the east coast of the KwaZulu-Natal province, about 250 km north of the city of Durban. The variety of habitats is very wide, and includes about 220 km of coastline, the estuary of the iMfolozi River and the mouth of St. Lucia Lake, lake areas such as the one mentioned or the Kosi Lake, wooded savannas and jungle and swampy areas. All this makes the wildlife variety impressive. More than 530 bird species have been described in iSimangaliso and mammals include antelopes, rhinos and hippos. We stayed two nights, and we visited the area closest to the town of St. Lucia, which contains a multitude of accommodations and other services. Specifically we moved through both shores of Lake St. Lucia, known as Eastern and Western Shores, respectively, as well as through the mouth of the lake. We also did a boat trip through the St. Lucia Lake to see hippos and crocodiles.

Below you can find some pictures. If you are interesed in a more complete description, please click on the link above.
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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 21:15   #6
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South Africa and Swaziland (eSwatini) (August 2019)

Hi again,

Next step in our trip was Hlane National Park in eSwatini (before known as Swaziland). In the following link you will find all information:

11. Hlane National Park (eSwatini).

To arrive to the famous Kruger National Park from iSimangaliso it is necessary to cross Swaziland (now eSwatini). As the trip was quite long, we decided to spend a couple of nights in the middle, specifically in the Hlane National Park in Swaziland. Previously this area was a rich royal hunting ground, although it is currently protected as a national park. It was declared in 1967, under the reign of King Sobhuza II of Swaziland, and is managed by Big Game Parks, a private agency. This park of 22,000 ha still houses a rich fauna, with species such as the lion, the savanna elephant, various species of vulture or the marabou. Hlane includes areas in which it is possible to drive by yourself, and others in which access is limited, being only possible to enter with guided tours. The area where the lions are is precisely one of them. Below you can find some pictures. If you want to see more, please click in the link above.
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Old Monday 16th December 2019, 07:53   #7
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Very nice, informative report. I especially appreciate the detailed maps. Very useful for planning purposes! Well done!
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Old Sunday 19th January 2020, 21:11   #8
arodris
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Hi,

Finally we arrived to the Kruger National Park. With nearly 2 million hectares Kruger NP is the largest national park in Africa, and hosts a unrivaled diversity of life forms within the continent, as well as several archeological sites. It hosts the Big Five (elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard), as well as an endless number of antelopes of different species and a multitude of birds. It is located to the east of the country, and next to the Limpopo National Park, in Mozambique. Both together form the Gran Limpopo transboundary park. It was created in 1926, opening to the public a year later. In the following days we were going to cross the park from south (we arrived from eSwatini or Swaziland) to north, entering through the Crocodile Bridge Gate and leaving it through the Punda Maria Gate.

The first day we visited the area around Crocodile Bridge. The second day we crossed from Crocodile Bridge Camp to Skukuza Camp. Here you have the links and some pictures:

12. Kruger National Park (1/7): Around Crocodile Bridge Camp

13. Kruger National Park (2/7): Between Crocodile Bridge, Lower Sabie and Skukuza

Pictures below are a cheetah, lion, african jacana, lilac-breasted roller and red-crested bustard.

In the following day I will include new posts from Kruger.

Regards,

Antonio
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Old Sunday 19th January 2020, 21:40   #9
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This looks like a great trip. I hope that you post more!
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Old Wednesday 5th February 2020, 21:04   #10
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Hi again,

Here you have a new post on our third day on the southwest part of Kruger National Park. The third day in Kruger was going to start with a visit to the Lake Panic Bird Hide, near Skukuza Camp. This hide was really interesting and offered us nice observations. Thereafter, we moved towards Preturioskop, following the course of the Sabie River. After visiting the Pretoriuskop area, we would return to Skukuza. Our reservation for the next night was outside the park, but very near to the Paul Kruger Gate. The day was characterized by the abundance of spotted hyenas.

Here the link:

14. Kruger National Park (3/7): Between Skukuza, Pretoriuskop y Paul Kruger Gate

Below you can find some pictures (Natal francolin, african fish-eagle, tawny-flanked prinia and spotted hyena):
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Old Monday 17th February 2020, 20:59   #11
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Hi again,

Here you have the next post for the Kruger National Park. This day was between Skukuza and Satara, while heading north. We saw our first kori bustard, white rhinos and so on.

15. Kruger National Park (4/7): Between Skukuza and Satara

Regards

Antonio
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Old Monday 2nd March 2020, 19:47   #12
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Hi again,

Our fifth day in Kruger National Park was going to take us into the most central part of the park. This area was the most similar to the typical African savanna, having less dense vegetation. Our day would end in Olifants, a camp with good views over the Olifants river.

The day gave us good sightings. Among mammals, three lions stand out (a pair of cubs and a lioness trying to hunt an impala), a group of 7 common dwarf mongooses, one spotted hyena and endless antelopes. Among the birds, one kori bustard, one red-crested bustard, several ostrichs, african openbill or several raptors, including a martial eagle. Here you have a link to my new post.

16. Kruger National Park (5/7): Between Satara and Olifants

Regards

Antonio
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Old Sunday 15th March 2020, 15:20   #13
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Hi again,

Here I add the links to the last two days in Kruger National Park, in the north area.

17. Kruger National Park (6/7): Between Olifants and Mopani
18. Kruger National Park (7/7): Between Mopani and Punda Maria

And also some pictures (african hawk-eagle, southern ground-hornbill, yellow-billed oxpecker, and leopard):

Regards,
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Old Thursday 19th March 2020, 21:56   #14
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This is the last post on my trip to South Africa. On the way to Johannesburg airport we visited the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve with beatiful landscapes and some interesting observations.

19. Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

Pictures below are a Cape Batis and a Southern Bald Ibis.

Regards
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Old Friday 20th March 2020, 09:35   #15
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Wonderful photos from Kruger National Park!
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Old Sunday 29th March 2020, 13:16   #16
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Antonio, thanks for your great report. I hope to use it for ma trip soon

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