DAY 15 - at Mata Mata
On the 15th day, the eager-beaver early-birds were up at 5.30am and at the gate at 6.50am, roaring to go. No signs of bush fatigue for these two Kalahari troopers, motivation levels were similar to Day 1
One problem : ice on the windscreen, which had to be washed off with cold water. No gloves, so the result is very cold hands
. Fortunately, the wind has dropped completely overnight. Fortunately again, the Prado has heated front-seats
. Unfortunately, forgot to dry the windscreen before departing. Result is a fresh layer of ice on the windscreen soon after leaving camp, leading to a delay and some muttering from the passenger
Despite the freezing conditions, springbok, gemsbok, hartebeest and giraffe are all out in the riverbed, grazing and browsing.
This hartebeest stood on the dune behind Kalahari Tented Camp, ready to greet the new day.
As we drive up to the 14th borehole, we spot a male lion walking towards the waterhole, and from behind, we are certain this is the same male as yesterday.
As we pull alongside, its clearly a different lion, but with a similar problem – porcupine quills, lots of them, and a trace of blood on his face?
Now some of you will be sitting back and thinking, ‘Peterbee is making this all up’.
What are the chances, on consecutive mornings, of lone males, arriving at the same waterhole, at about the same time, both a little worse for wear, both on the lean side, both carrying a few unwanted porcupine quills? About zero. Well folks, it happened.
These are two different lions.
He approached the waterhole, and jumped over the muddy bits, to drink for about 12 minutes.
We were alone at the waterhole, and in the still morning, we could clearly hear the lion lapping up the water. Eventually he lay down and drank.
I have opened the window to take these photographs, and now my hands are ice cold, and I wonder if the camera can operate in these conditions. Again we look around for the rest of the pride, but nothing. The lion retreats to a bush on the other side of the riverbed, and we decide its time to warm up with coffee and breakfast.
By 10am, there are 8 cars watching the sleeping lion, and a few gemsbok drinking at the waterhole. Perhaps somebody can explain why lions are so fond of porcupines? Is this all that lone males can successfully hunt?
We leave and head back north, passing some giraffe,
And at Craig Lockhart, 33 ostriches. We notice two gemsbok scuffling in the dust, but only closer to the waterhole do we pick up the injury suffered by this gemsbok, from a wound on its side.
Craig Lockhart, like the 13th waterhole, is completely dry.
Returned to Mata Mata. A cold wind has again sprung up from the south
. The warmest place is in the car, so we head out again at 3pm, and spot 2 African wild cats.
Stopped at Dalkeith for afternoon drinks, but the whole area is deserted, only some doves for company.
At Sitzas, watch a giraffe family patiently wait for a lone wildebeest to exit the waterhole, before cautiously coming in to drink.
Back at camp at 6pm, the wind is once again howling up from the south, the temperature reads 6 degrees. No ways am I going without a braai for a 3rd night
So alone outside, not another person in sight, I make a fire and shelter it from the southerly gusts, standing as close to the fire as possible, and hoping that I would not accidentally set Namibia alight
. With a glass of medicinal liquid in one hand, the other buried in a pocket, I kept an eye open for the resident genet.
What the neighbours thought, I will never know. The lamb chops never tasted better.
(For those interested in the lion tally : 24