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Kruger National Park

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Kruger National Park
(Scheduled for May 2, 2020)

We fly over the northern Drakensberg Escarpment and then over the southern half of Kruger National Park. We shall enjoy the area's dramatic terrain and its grand bushland vistas.

We begin at the fairly new (2003) Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport [FAKN]. This is the major airport that connects other SA cities with the Kruger National Park. At the southern end of the runway, the terminal building is intriguing as it is the largest thatch roofed building on the continent. That said, it is entirely modern in its facilities. [To start, you might choose GA parking 5-13.]

Our first stop is the Elandshoogte [AW05] which has two grass strips  (07 and 14) of modest dimensions. Located in the lush Sappi forests, it is used by firefighters to control blazes in the mountains. We then head north past the Kwena Dam to land at Lydenburg [FALL], a former Boer gold mining town and now South Africa's "fly-fishing capital." Turning east, we pass over the Long Tom Pass and descend into the forestry town Sabie [AW04] to land at the interestingly situated airfield there. The town has recently developed a special tourism appeal, most notably for adventurous mountain bikers. (The Noon to Moon is a 10-hour endurance relay race that includes 3 hours of night riding.)

Then north climbing up to
God's Window [WINDOW] from which one can see the steep walls of the escarpment drop down through the clouds to the Lowveld that stretches out into the distance. (This was the location of the closing scene in the remarkable 1980 film "The Gods Must Be Crazy.") We shall enter the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and descend into the Blyde River Canyon itself. (How low you fly is the decision of the PIC.) We pass the Three Rondavels [3ROND] (grass topped rocks that resemble the traditional rondavels, the typical indigenous houses). We turn at the Blyde River Dam [DAM] and fly out of the canyon over the Swadini resort [SWADN]. Blyde River Canyon is one of the larger canyons on Earth, the second largest in Africa, and perhaps the largest "green" canyon. This is a well-developed tourist attraction. See the drone aerial video Blyde River Canyon South Africa.

We land at the Thornybush Game Lodge [FATB], a sixty-year-old
 five star private game reserve. The facilities provide luxury amenities to complement expert tracker-led game drives and ranger-guided walking tours. While private, the bushland has a fenceless border with Kruger National Park and features the same sort of bush wildlife to be enjoyed by the Lodge's visitors.

We depart north flying over several of those game reserves to land at Phalaborwa [FAPH]. The name is ancient Sotho for "better than the south" – a reference to the then fever-ridden areas to the south. Historically a small-scale tribal iron and copper mining area, the modern town was founded in 1951 after phosphate was discovered by Foskor, who currently operate the phosphate mines here. The Palabora Mining company rose from those origins and mines mainly copper, plus iron ore and uranium. Their open pit mine [PIT] is 2000 meters in diameter, one of the world's largest holes in the ground.

The town is also a tourist spot, again mostly for those visiting the game preserves as well as Kruger National Park whose Phalaborwa Gate [PGATE] is a half-mile east of the airport. One mile further south, you can play a round at the Hans Merensky Golf Estate [GOLF]. Founded in 1967 as the place "where golf meets African wildlife," it was once one of South Africa's premier courses. While the playing conditions have declined due to local droughts and a lack of reinvestment, recent efforts have brought back some of the classic exotic experience. In any case, for many golfers it is exhilarating to play on a course that you share with wild animals – including elephants, giraffes, monkeys, and baboons on the fairways and hippos in the water hazards – although some caution is advised.
This is truly entertaining golf in the wild.


Finally, we get an extended look at Kruger National Park. Parts have been protected since 1898 when it became clear that the wildlife were endangered. In 1902 James Stevenson-Hamilton became the first warden and over his forty year tenure was able to protect the wildlife from imminent demise at the hands of professional hunters. As part of the process, all native tribes were removed from the park. Even today, the Park's wildlife, especially the Rhinoceros, are under constant threat posed by organized professional poachers from Mozambique.

For us this is an opportunity to see the Big Five (in our imagination). The term was coined by big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. This includes the African elephant, the black rhinoceros (critically endangered), the Cape buffalo (the most dangerous to hunters), the lion, and the African leopard (the most difficult to hunt because of their nocturnal and secretive nature).

Perhaps the most famous film clip of Big Five action is the legendary 2004 video
Battle at Kruger. If you have seen this, it is worth another look. If you have not seen this, stop and watch it.

 

 

We turn at Letaba Rest Camp [LETABA], on a bend in the Letaba River, which is rated the second most attractive of the park's camps. The Elephant Hall honors "the Magnificent Seven" tusker elephants whose majestic ivory made them famous (and targets for poachers). We continue southeast to land at the dirt airstrip for Olifants Camp [AW77] where a driver will take us to the restaurant for brunch. Olifants (OLIFAN) is noted for its majestic hilltop views of elephants and hippos in the Olifants River and the rolling plains of the Lowveld below. We depart to pass over Satara Camp (SATARA) which is rated as best for seeing the Big Five. (For some film of the local residents' daily life, see gamedrive from Satara to Skukuza.)

Then we land at Skukuza (FASZ), the Park's primary camp and the site of the Park's headquarters. On the Sabie River, Skukuza is the largest and most popular camp, a full village really, and is right in the heart of Big Five territory – animals can be seen from the deck of the restaurants. The name Skukuza ("to sweep") was given to game warden James Stevenson-Hamilton by the local Tsonga people as he was popularly feted for "sweeping" the land of poachers and other criminals. (Historians now suspect that the term may reflect the local people's resentment of having been swept from their native homeland.)

Skukuza airport hosts direct commercial flights to both Cape Town and Johannesburg on a daily basis. In addition, South African National Parks operates the
SANParks Air Wing of four helicopters here to assist with anti-Rhino poaching and conduct other wildlife operations from the sky.

On the way southward, note the waypoint [BATTLE] which marks the location of the 
Battle at Kruger – not so very far from the entirely civilized Skukuza camp. (Just fly past the waypoint, as there is no representation of the pond near which the event took place.)

To finish our journey, we land back at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport [FAKN]. Park in front of the terminal. From here you can make good homeward connections to Europe and North America.

 

 

Documentation
The flightplan can be found here.

Aircraft
The route is 301nm. This will require a fast single or a light twin capable of about 150kts. Our favorites might include a Cherokee, Comanche, C182, C185, C208, C310, C337, Bellanca Viking, Aero Commander 500, or Kodiak. Of course, you should fly whatever you like. I shall take an old favorite, the A2A Comanche in the ZS-WBM livery.

Scenery
The flight looks best with the payware Orbx African Landclass & Mesh scenery package. In order to have all the airports you will need to install two scenery packages, one from Aeroworx and the second a Kruger National Park collection from Aeroworx. If you don't have the Orbx package, you might want to use the South Africa landclass from Aeroworx. And if you have no mesh, you might like the Aeroworx mesh for the region. [If you flew last week, you need add only the Kruger National Park collection.] Watch your email inbox for details.

Time and Weather
For takeoff on Saturday, please set the simulator at 7:00am local for January 4, 2020. (For this landscape, we do not want orange autumn leaves. We intentionally use summer textures.) We shall prefer to fly real weather. If necessary, a good alternate weather would be January 4, 2020 at 7:00am local, 0500 UTC.

Particulars
Date and time: May 2, 2020. 1800 UTC
Where: AVSIM RTWR Teamspeak - Casual Flights Channel
Teamspeak Server Address: ts.teamavsim.com
Cross-Platform Multiplayer: JoinFS. Latest version is
here. (FSX, FSX-SE, and P3D)

If you want to help others enjoy the multiplayer experience, don't forget to enter your aircraft details on the multiplayer spreadsheet (linked
 here). Your courtesy will save others a lot of time and effort. Thanks!

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--Mike MacKuen
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Bonus Film Segments
Some more videos for those with the time.

Living with Lions – South Africa's Kruger National Park – BBC.  (1:10:27)
Better resolution here:
Nature Documentary. (50:42)
In the 1990s and the turn of the century, acclaimed filmmaker Jurgen Jozefowicz visited various parts of the Park and eventually won the trust of a pride of lions over an eight year period. He literally lived with the lions. This 2015 documentary chronicles the return of Jurgen Jozefowicz to revisit some of his old haunts and recalls some of his great film memories. If this idea strikes your fancy, take a look at some great footage.

Kruger National Park SD 1998 – Travel Channel 24. (31:10)
Good old-fashioned travel documentary. Highly edited, glossy, and informative introduction to the Park and its tourism facilities. Note segments on the Sukuza, Satara, Olifants, and Letaba camps.

Difference between the Kruger Park and Private Reserves. (5:27)
Good comparison that gives a feel of the two types of experiences.

Thorny Bush Game Lodge. Big Five Challenge. (6:22)
Promotional "you are there" video of taking on the challenge of finding the Big Five.

Landing at Thornybush Game Lodge. (1:31)
Old grainy color video. Still, the real thing.

Kruger National Park from above. (1:39)
Brief crisp view of wildlife from a drone perspective.

Flying in Kruger Park With SANParks Air Wing. (4:12)
Dangerous and critical anti-poaching operations over the park. Along with scientific and park management operations.

Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. (5:10)
Promotional film of the airport and the local sights. Worth a look.

The Gods Must Be Crazy trailer. (1:58)
(For the final scene at God's Window, the "edge of the earth", see the clip at 1:42.)

  • Like 1

--Mike MacKuen
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On 5/1/2020 at 3:08 AM, MM said:

For takeoff on Saturday, please set the simulator at 7:00am local for January 4, 2020.

Oh no not another early morning start.... 🥱 😫


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Kruger National Park. Suggested Extra Airport.

 


I'm going to suggest that we consider adding in an extra airport toward the end of our day...to be used if we have extra time or people just want a bit more to do. This airport is labeled Othawa [FAOL] in our database and locally known as Ulusaba airstrip. With a long hard runway, suitable for a King Air, it serves the exquisite Ulusaba Lodges.

The exclusive "Richard Branson" Ulusaba Safari Lodge and Ulusaba Rock Lodge are frequently listed among the very best world-wide vacation destinations. These are wonderfully luxurious accommodations that share the famous Sabi Sands Game Preserve with a handful other lodges. The game drives provide a chance to see things you might not otherwise experience. Just the sort of place that might suit our highly-refined tastes...

From this Ulusaba airstrip video you can see the steep hillside on which the Ulusaba Rock Lodge is perched (not in sim). Additionally, landing at Othawa/Ulusaba [FAOL] will provide the pilot a good chance of spotting one of the Big Five.

If we choose this option, we shall insert the landing between the Olifants Camp Airstrip [AW77] and Suzuka [FASZ]. The airstrip is located 33nm southeast (242°) of Olifants Camp and about 16nm northwest of Suzuka. This extra leg should add about 10 minutes to our day.


The augmented flightplan is available here.


--Mike MacKuen
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I may be a bit late. My previous euphoria with v5hf has taken a knock. I'm presently going the 'Verify Files' route, probably to be followed by 'rename that file' game.

All together now "We shall o-ver cuuhahum"


What is the answer to life the universe and everything? An 'app'.

My Paints On MediaFire

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Mike,

Once again... Thank You for the flight, all the research & all the last minute tech issues..
Fantastic! Such a gaggle of different aircraft too ))
OFC took some photos, at one location it even caused a crash.. Looking back at the visitor center near the dam, when should've been looking forward. BOOM.. Hard surface - lol 
You may view them here if wanted, ofc not up to par with ......

Still a 50/50 chance for tomorrow, if not able - have a good week, stay healthy!

  • Like 2

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Yamaha CR 1000/JBL 2500, AMD 965 BE OC'd @ 3.88, RipJaw 2x4GB 1600 CL7, Gigabyte GTX-1070 OC 8GB, Asus M4A87TD EVO (AMD 870), Samsung 850 EVO 256GB & 1TB SSDs, WD 1T & 500G Black, 19" & 32" LCD, Win7 Pro 64bit, TMaster T-Flight HOTAS, FSX/FS9, FSUIPC / LUA, FSRealWX Pro, PlanG, JoinFS, LittleNavMap
Copilot - Samantha the "Hound"  RIP 😞        
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