On Saturday evening we went for a drive towards Orpen Gate. Fantastic! We witnessed two young male giraffe 'necking' in the middle of the road. We watched them tangling with each other for quite some time competing for dominance. Thereafter we returned to camp for an evening braai under the stars. The piri piri chicken was certainly spicy but went down well with a couple of glasses of red wine....
On Sunday morning we were up bright and early and heading along the S100. There they were! Two massive male lion walked out of the bush just in front of our car and crossed the road.
|One of the large male lions crossing the road in front of our car.|
At 9:30am I had a QSO with Monk ZS4SF. He was using a vertical half wave. His signal was definitely down (559). But he had worked some PY (Brazil) stations earlier. This is definitely a DX antenna.
We then headed for Pretoriuskop camp about 150 kms to the south, stopping for a pie and ginger beer lunch near Skukuza atop a granite outcrop 'called a dwala where we come from' with a 360 degree spectacular view of the veld.
Pretoriuskop and the surrounding bush has a much different feel to Satara. This being thick bush with fewer game. Ideal Rhino country. We checked into a rondavel with a great view of an open space area looking towards the swimming pool which is built into the side of a granite outcrop. Most picturesque.
My end fed antenna here was excellent. Completely in the clear. A sloper configuration. One end at 20ft and the other at 8ft. The band at 06:15 pm was in good shape with 569 reports received from Barrie, Bruce ZS6BK and Evert ZS6AQW (599). Evert was using a fb older rig which I believe was a Halicrafters but not completely sure. QRM was high but the band was open for mid-distance 500Km QSO's with no problem.
Lamb Chops Sunday evening. Oh how we will miss South African lamb chops when we return to the USA!
On Monday April 21st I was up early, before the sun, listening to DX. Initially South America and then North America as the sun was rising. By 7 am the band was short enough that I was able to establish excellent contact with Peter ZS1JX in Cape Town (559/QSB), Barrie and Monk. We were surprised that the band was so good so early in the day.
|End Fed Half wave wire at Pretoriuskop camp. In the clear and high|
|The view from our hut at Pretoriuskop|
At 11 am om Pierre ZS6A gave me a 579 report. It was nice to talk to Pierre again.
After a leisurely time spent swimming and exploring the camp I was QRV at 3pm. QSO's and good signal reports were made with Eddie ZS6BNE who was running 15 Watts, and another round with Monk. Thanks chaps!
Our evening game drive was fully rewarded when we came across two young male elephants fighting for dominance right in the middle of the road. We spent about 30 minutes watching them clash and push against each other in a show of strength. Eventually one of the young elephants stormed off into the bush and started to push over a number of small trees as if to emphasize his superior strength. At one point we were obliged to reverse the car to give then space. Certainly we had never experienced anything like this before.
That evening back at camp I enjoyed my contacts with Eddie, Evert and Monk before a dinner of braaied borewors and a glass (or two) of good red South African wine. Good night...
On Tuesday morning after a relaxed breakfast we set out for our final destination in the south of the park near Malelane Gate. A camp called Berg en Dal. We had about 60 kms to drive. Soon we were amongst a large group of elephant feeding on the lush vegetation.What a pleasure it was to watch these majestic creatures going about their daily routine in their own habitat.
By lunchtime we had arrived at Berg en Dal. Here in this lovely wooded camp we had the pleasure of meeting up with my brother Ed and his wife Linda. We spent an enjoyable few hours catching up on news while we sat in their caravan camp overlooking a large river.
I deployed my antenna into some nearby trees and reasonably in the clear. Up about 20 ft. and sloping down to 15 ft. I received a good signal report from Monk before we headed out for our evening game drive.
We could not believe it when a young Leopard casually walked out of the bush in front of us and ambled down the road to the drift crossing the river below. What a magnificent sight! We crept down the road to obtain a second glimpse before the leopard was gone. This was the first time Berry and I had seen a leopard in the wild. Memorable indeed.
On returning to camp I had a nice chat with Barrie and Monk at 6pm. Excellent band conditions once again.
After an enjoyable evening with Ed and Linda we crept into bed for our last night in the bush. Hyena could be heard throughout the night calling from somewhere deep in the bush. When would we hear that sound again?
I awoke early on Wednesday, our final morning. It was still pitch dark when I called CQ. To my surprise I was answered by Adrian ZS1TTZ at 05:45am (439). The band was wide open to Cape Town and Welkom! After an enjoyable chat with Adrian and Monk, Ed and I were at the gate by 6 am for another early morning drive. This time we were rewarded by the sight of three Rhino sleeping side by side sardine fashion and a Hyena standing quietly by the side of the road. Surely the litter must have been nearby.
What a lovely end to a wonderful trip!
|Hyena near Berg en Dal|
|Rhino sleeping 'sardine fashion' at Berg en Dal|
|Our hut at Pretoriuskop|
|The operating position at Berg en Dal|
|A kudu bull with a large pair!|
|The little table is perfect for QRP operations and can easily be moved around|
|My lovely wife Berry. How can I ever thank her for her tolerance of my hobby :)|