July 18, 2007 – Karoo NP
I lazily opened my eyes and noticed that the first sign of daylight is just showing… Then suddenly I realize where I am – in a National Park – and immediately I’m wide awake! I jump up with such a speed that Linda yells, “what’s wrong?” “Nothing dear – everything is RIGHT! Now let’s get up and get going – the bush (or is it the Karoo bossies) is calling”.
I stand on the “stoep” (porch), sipping my early morning coffee and stare over the landscape that is slowly emerging from the dark of the night… I spot some zebra and kudu lazily browsing on the slopes of the mountain in the distance…
After another quick cup of coffee, we set off for a drive, just as the sun comes up. There are some spots of fog in to lower laying areas, and it is an almost unbelievably calm… a feeling you can only get our here in nature.
Our friendly neighbor (yeah the one that “stole” my braai) told us that they saw a black rhino in the valley where the Lammertjiesleegte road meets the main entrance road early the day before. We searched through the fog and bushes, but to no avail. Guess he is grazing in different spot today.
The first animals we see are these Mountain Zebras grazing on a far-off ridge. What a glorious sight in the early morning sun!
A Karoo Korhaan (I think?) crosses the road in front of us, and just as I have it in focus, it turns away, ducks its head and heads off into the bushes.
We tour around the lammertjiesleegte circle and see Gemsbok, Kudu, Springbok, Ostriches, Zebra and a lot of lbj’s, but all the animals are very skittish and too far away for decent photos.
We stop at the Bulkraal picnic site. This is a delightful place and I love the way they have each picnic spot (with a braai) cut out in the bush for secluded privacy. Wish we had time to cook up a leisurely breakfast here!
On the way back to camp this Sringbok is on a mission to somewhere. I just manage to get some kind of a photo of him walking away from us at a very brisk pace!
Then finally we see a majestic male ostrich, fairly close to the road, with the light from the right side! I got one “square” photo, but as soon as he heard the shutter, he twirled around and head off…
I think I’m starting to sense some kind of trend here…
Back at the Cabin, we pack up and go for breakfast at the restaurant. What a pleasant surprise – the breakfast is included in the accommodation price!!! What a bargain!
A few photos of the cabins:
We go for a quick walk of the fossiltrail. This is really neat, and have heaps of very interesting information about the history (very old history) of this area. There sure have been some creepy creatures here in the past! This is a “must do” for anyone visiting the park – and make sure you allot enough time (1-2 hours) for this!
Start of the trail and petrified tree
Ancient Nasties (smiley and toofy?)!
Linda is really impressed with our “thorny things”, and I am obligated to take a photo.
We then take the drive up Klipspringer pass. What a lovely drive!!! Well, at least I,m enjoying it – Linda, having lived in Houston all her life (where the highest “peak” in a 25 mile radius is only about 50 feet), have some white knuckles and a lot less color in her cheeks, by the time we get to the top!
However, once there, I think she enjoys the view – and so do I.
On this whole drive we didn’t see any klipspringers – nor any other animals, except this “dassie” (Rock Hyrax). I noticed that the mammals’ checklist for the park refer to it a “Rock Dassie” – is this correct?
We make a quick stop at the bird hide. This is a great hide with a wonderful view for birds in the reeds and in the water, as well as for animals that may come to drink in the afternoon. I think I can sit there for hours enjoying the view and creatures... But not enought ime for that today!
Red Billed Teal on the pond, and I can’t resist the light on this grass seed!
Since we have some time to spare before we have to depart for Cape Town, we decided to go for another loop around lammertjiesleegte to see if the animals were less skittish now (hoping the sun made them too lazy to move away from the road).
We don’t see anything more than earlier in the morning, and most of the animals are bedded down for a rest, and far away from the road. One highlight is a very distant view of some of the “quagga-like” zebras. This photo is a cropped section, taken with a 560mm telephoto (400mm plus 1.4X converter). Needless to say – they are “dooooeeeerrrrrr ver” (waaayyyyy over yonder!). The stripefree bums are clearly visible on the one in the center. I wonder if the project to “resurrect” the quagga will really work in the end? Does anybody have more information on its progress?
This steenbok was obliging with a nice pose (for about 3 seconds) before she too turned around and hopped away…
At about 1:00 PM our whirlwind 20-hour visit to the Karoo NP came to an end – all too soon – and we headed out on our way to Cape Town.
To be continued…. (Karoo NP Epilogue)