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 Post subject: Jumbo and SO in Kgalagadi: Nov 2007
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:29 pm 
Some of the shots in this report was taken by my SO and some by me….the WOW ones belong to him, and the “that’s nice” is mine. :lol:

Getting there

We split our almost 1 500 km journey from Maputo to Twee Rivieren into 2 days.
On the 11th we travelled from Lichtenburg to Twee Rivieren, originally planning to go via Upington because we were worried about the condition of the Vanzylsrus road. We could not afford to get to 2R too late because we still had to drive up to Urikaruus.
With all our previous visits we used the Vanzylsrus road because you are already in the Kalahari and you already feel like you are on holiday. We have also had some great wildlife sightings on this road before….meerkat (saw some again this time), steenbok etc that crosses the road.
As we neared Kuruman we started doubting our plans to go through Upington, especially after encountering hordes of big trucks on that excuse of a national road, nogal early on a Sunday morning. :roll:
I took the chance of contacting the SAPS on Vanzylsrus to enquire about the condition of that road. A friendly chap said the road is in a very good condition and thus we turned off at Kuruman towards Hotazel.
The road is good tar all the way to Hotazel and a good stretch has newly been tarred towards Vanzylsrus. It seems they are going to tar the whole road from Hotazel to Vanzylsrus.
Where the tar ends there are road works as they are preparing the gravel to be tarred.
After the road works and all the way to Askham the road has been graded and is in a good condition…..only a few spots with a bit of loose sand that should be driven carefully.
I really love this road because of the scenery and in the +- 250 km we only encountered 3 other cars.

I’m posting this shot of me and some friendly horses so that you can get an idea of the scenery (much nicer than the highway :wink: )….you can also see the condition of the road.

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This area obviously had some very good rain and I was very hopeful for what awaits us in the park. At some spots it looked like Namaqualand with yellow flowers completely covering the landscape.

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Photo taken by me

The part of road that is already tarred from Andriesvale towards 2R is in good condition….did not see potholes, suppose they were filled. Where the tar ends there is road works and that is a bad patch….nothing serious though. After the tarred section we found the gravel to be fairly good….that is however our HO.

We got to 2R at 15:00….it took us about 8 hr to do the 700 odd km from Lichtenburg….that was with a few stops. I believe it would have taken us the same time, if not longer, to do the +- 850km through Upington.

11 November: Urikaruus

It was a nice 36 degrees C when we got to 2R….it was however not THAT hot to us….I suppose it is because we are use to the humid heat in Maputo….the dry heat of the Kalahari is much more bearable.

We stocked up on some ice and wood and left 2R at 15:30… on our way to Urikaruus.
Just after we left the camp we had our first Meerkat sighting…was just a brief glimpse before it dashes into a hole.
In the dunes towards the Auob we had our first sighting of a Namaqua Sandgrouse and saw some Anteating Chats.

We also saw our first Gemsbok… was like bumping into an old friend.

The Auob area was very dry…it was quite evident that the rains that blessed the area south of the park did not make its way here. Here was basically no vegetation for the animals to eat. We also had our first of many sightings of Eland carcasses…such a sad thing to see. During our trip we also saw many Blue Wildebeest carcasses. :cry:

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At Houmoed ? (sorry, not sure about the waterholes) my SO took a great shot of a Black-headed Heron….they always look so out of place in the Kalahari

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Between Houmoed and Munro we keep our eyes open for the leopard with her cub that all was talking about (thanks to KatyDU for the sms….you however forgot to send me some of your “leopard luck” as well :lol: ). It was not our lucky day though. :(

At Munro (?) we saw our first Springbuck. There are currently very few Springbok on the Auob side.
I used my new Teleconverter for this shot…I’m very happy with the results….thanks to Bert and his SO for the great info! :clap:

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We had our second Meerkat sighting and this time my SO was able to get a photo…she was completely alone and she appears to be pregnant.

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I’m not sure at which waterhole it was, but we also had our first of many sightings of Giraffe….another animals that seems out of place to me.

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The Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters were a welcome and beautiful sighting.

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Our first drive was rounded of with the sightings of Black-backed Jackals and an Ostrich that posed on a dune.

On our way to Urikaruus we came upon the strange scene of people in the middle of the road, all out of their safari vehicle and with their tripods set-up in the road. This was our first encounter with the guys (or cowboys as we later started calling them :roll: ) of !Xaus Lodge. The “guide” was also in the road…no weapon with him….suppose he has a black-belt in “killing lion by hand”. I hope this type of thing does not happen too often…might give other tourist some ideas? :shock:

We arrived at Urikaruus at about 19:00…one thing that is great about visiting this park in summer is that the gates open at 5:30 and only close again at 19:30….lots of time for game viewing.

We got unit #4….which we were very grateful for….really nice to be at the end and have a great view on the waterhole.

As we unpacked the resident Yellow Mongoose kept a watchful eye on us.
Just as the sun was setting a herd of Blue Wildebeest came for a drink. My SO got a great shot with the white flowers of the Driedoring that was lit up by the afternoon sun.

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Photo taken by SO

Just after sunset 2 Hyenas arrived. They first took a drink and then curiously went closer to the Wildebeest. The Wildebeest did not tolerate this and charged the Hyenas, which wisely moved on.
That evening we enjoyed the star filled skies and the silence of the Kalahari night. :D


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Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:30 pm 
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Great start, can't wait for the next installment. I think your pics are awesome, so really looking forward to seeing them. Talking about that, I came all the way over the hot and dusty roads just to meet you guys, but you cleverly managed to evade me. :) I searched everywhere, everyday, and all I could find was leopards and lions and more leopards, but still no jumbo!!!
So KDU and SO had to put up with me :) ,(actually I went there to meet them as well :) ) but I'm hoping someday on one of our travels, our paths will cross.

Until then show me all the wonderful pics. :popcorn:

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Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:14 pm 
Thank you all so much for reading the report and for the kind comments. :D

peterpiper wrote:
I searched everywhere, everyday, and all I could find was leopards and lions and more leopards, but still no jumbo!!!


Grrrrr :sniper: :wall: :cry:
Well mister, we tried to find you as well and all we saw were Honey Badgers. :twisted:
BTW, I heard via the bush telegraph that somebody got some amazing shots of a leopard mom and cub having a family quarrel :mrgreen: ….would really be nice to see that!!!! :wink:

@Arks, we were very lucky with Meerkat this year…had sightings almost every second day!

@LeeS :mrgreen:


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Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 3:41 pm 
12 November: Urikaruus

During the night we were woken by a severe windstorm and the night was actually quite chilly. The morning we decided to sleep-in after our two-days drive. Because of the cooler weather it was great to just lie in bed, every now and then lifting our heads to peek at the waterhole. 8)

The Black Backed Jackals frequently visited the waterhole as well as Gemsbok. It is however so sad to see the condition of the gemsbok….ribs and hipbones are showing.
The Yellow Mongoose made sure we do not forget that it is also around.

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At around noon it started to get hot again and it was quite amusing to watch how the Ground Squirrels bury themselves in the sand to cool down.

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Photo taken by SO

Late afternoon we took a very slow and relaxed drive southwards. Traveling at about 10km/h, we just savored the Kalahari.

Our relaxed mood was a bit disturbed by the game viewing vehicle of !Xaus Lodge that came past us at one heck of a speed, going north. :evil: We however decided that this year we are not going to get upset about speeding vehicles in the park….not our problem and in any case, we cannot change anything. We were just thankful that we were not the poor tourists on the back of that safari vehicle. :roll:

In contrast to the !Xaus tourists we had the luxury to spot and enjoy all the small things that also make a Kgalagadi trip special. :D My SO took some great shots of a Crowned Lapwing.

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At one of the lookout spots we saw a pair of Double-banded Coursers with the tiniest chick. We unfortunately did not get a photo of this piece of fluff that only briefly appeared before taking refuge in a bush.

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Photo taken by SO

At Rooibrak we decided to park the car and wait for whatever would come to us. Just as we pulled over another car came from behind and stopped next to us…it was Katydownunder and Francolin….was really great to see them again. :D We chatted for a while and they continued with their afternoon drive.
Just after they left, 2 Black Backed Jackals visited the waterhole.

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A Fork-tailed Drongo was kind enough to give me a nice pose.

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A Tawny Eagle landed in a tree behind the waterhole and sat there for quite some time, scanning the environment to make sure it is safe to come down for a drink.
Eventually it flew down, but quite a distance away from the water and walked the remaining distance, stopping every now and then to check its surroundings for danger.

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Just as it got to the water, before taking a sip, a car came racing past, chasing it up again. I felt so sorry for the poor thing….it took so long to have the guts to come down and was now sitting in a tree, going through the whole safety procedure again. Luckily for us though it was a bit closer now and we were able to get a few shots.

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We started making our way back to camp and found a Swallow-tailed Bee-eater in a bush right next to the road. I slowly crept up to it with the car and was able to get very close to it.
The light was unfortunately not very good….with this photo I had to use Photoshop to lighten the shadows on the bird a bit. Luckily the original was very sharp because I was so close and the bird was not completely in a shadow, so not too much detail was lost.

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As not to chase the Bee-eater (it was on the left hand side of the road) I stopped the car more to the middle of the road to take photos. I was still busy taking photos when my SO warned me to quickly get out of the road because he heard a vehicle approaching at quite a speed. Luckily I reacted fast because the next moment the !Xaus cowboy came round the bend, again at a hectic speed, and raced past without even slowing down a bit….leaving us in the dust, minus the Bee-eater and me saying my rhyme “I will not get upset :angel: ….darn cowboy!!!! :evil: ….I will not get upset :angel:

At Kamqua we found this relaxed BBJ.

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His mellow mood rubbed off and we had the same type of evening, looking at the stars while enjoying our braai.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:54 am 
13 November: Urikaruus

This was an amazing day! 8) I’m having a bit of a “time” problem, so will have to spilt this day into two posts.

We were out of camp at 05:30. We took the road northwards, thinking that if things work out we will still go to Mata Mata….wanted to get our wood supplies for Grootkolk because Nossob often has a problem with wood due to the 4x4 groups that go through there.

We did however not rush it ….still had 2 more days before we went to Grootkolk.
We drove slowly, enjoying the beautiful sunrise. It is so amazing when those first rays of morning sun hit the dunes, lighting them up to a deep red while the riverbed is still dark.

We took the loop towards Dertiende Boorgat. At the waterhole we only found doves, having their morning drink.

Between Dertiende and Veertiende Boorgat we noticed a car parked next to the road…. major camera lenses sticking out of the window. As we approached my SO spotted the African Wild Cat. It was quite close to the road and did not take any notice of the vehicles…..it was in hunting mode. :D

It stalked a rat that had just its head sticking out of its hole….then it charged but was too slow for the rat that disappeared into the earth…..the cat did not give up that easily and stuck its whole arm down the hole….but no joy.

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It then took a rest and after a while started the stalking process all over again….

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….and again missed. :(

When we left the cat, that was now lying in the shade grooming itself, we noticed that the vehicle with the friendly man that was there first, had an “Ousus” sticker on….only then we realized it was Piet Heymans.

We took the loop to Veertiende Boorgat. At the waterhole we saw nothing. A small distance on we had our first sighting of Bat-eared Foxes……they were unfortunately too far to get a good photos of.

Where the loop joins the main road we found a Greater Kestrel…..we tried to get a few shots but the light was not very good.
While we were trying to get photos we heard a lion roaring not to far away….it was in the direction we came from, but sounded more towards the dunes.
We decided to go back, using the main road that goes through the dunes.

We however first stopped to get photos of this beautiful Tawny Eagle…look like the striped form?

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Photo taken by me

Between the dunes we also had our first snake sighting for the trip, a medium sized Puff Adder.

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Photo taken by me

We heard the lions again and they we closer….we drove slowly, scanning the environment and keeping our eyes open for spoor (I love the Kgalagadi roads! :D ).
Almost where the loop towards Veertiende Boorgat begins, we spotted the first spoor…it was a big lion. We trekked the spoor as it went down the road into the riverbed….they were obviously on their way to the waterhole.

To be continued…. :wink:


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Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:59 pm 
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What a wonderful report Jumbo....just please don't tell us how hot it gets. :cry: I will be there over New Year and I am panicking about the heat...Just tell us all about the wonderful animal sightings :dance: Your pics are absolutely stunning!!!!
More please!!!!

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13-15th Oct Kgalagadi Lodge
16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:43 pm 
Many thanks to all of you….I will get going with my next instalment. :D

Michele, to me this is the best time to visit Kgalagadi. The winters are just too cold. IMHO, it is much better to stay in a tent in Kgalagadi this time of year than in Kruger….the nights in the Kalahari always cool down, not that humid hot nights you get in Kruger. I was in Crocodile Bridge on Monday and the night was extremely hot….we did not have that in Kgalagadi. Even in the day, the humidity in Kruger makes it more uncomfortable than the dry heat in the Kalahari…..you are going to have a great trip! :wink:


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Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:43 am 
13 November: Urikaruus (cont.)

I apologize for the delay in my report…I had to spend a few days at our Marloth house after our house was burgled :evil: …it is not soooo bad though to pick up glass while having the Woodland Kingfisher singing to me and a Violet-backed Starling hopping around in the tree next to me….seems we have a regular one now….the starling I mean (hopefully) :lol:

Ok, to recap…we heard lions and we trekked their spoor from the dune road into the riverbed near Veertiende Boorgat.
We travelled just a small distance towards the waterhole when we spotted a big male lying in the shade of a tree, doing his carpet imitation. :roll: It did not look like this guy is going to move soon and thus we decided to go onwards to the waterhole because we saw two spoors and reckoned the other lion might be at the water. Just before we got to the waterhole a vehicle stopped us and the nice guy told us that the other lion just had a drink….he was on his way back to the one lying under the tree.

At the waterhole the other male was now lying in a shade of a tree quite some distance away from the waterhole….his carpet imitation was even more convincing.

There was only one other vehicle at the sighting, Piet Heymans….very kind man…he called us closer and said that the other guys we met was his friend and they are in contact by radio….they will let us know when the other lion makes its way towards the water…he also parked his car in such a way that we could also park in the shade. :D

While waiting for the lion to pitch up the SO captured some Sandgrouse coming for a drink.

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Photo taken by SO


We only sat for a short while when Oom Piet indicated to us that the lion was on its way.
Soon afterwards this beautiful black-mane lion came walking down the riverbed. It went directly to the waterhole. The watrhole was spilling over and a pool formed right around it. The lion took a few sips from the water on the ground but did not look impressed….it then walked around the waterhole, took a few sip, but still did not look happy and again walked around….on the other side of the waterhole it looked straight at us and my SO and I was just busy snapping this majestic beast looking at us when, without warning, it jumped!!!! :shock: 8) We both captured it while it jumped…below is my shot (cropped)….the SO, with his Nikon, captured it high quality (in RAW)….amazing!

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As we saw on a later occasion as well, it appears the lions do not fancy the muddy water on the ground, and being a cat, will also not walk through the surrounding water to the cement dam…they thus jump to get to the cleaner water inside the waterhole itself.

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After drinking this male also chose a tree to just go and collapse under. At one point a Gemsbok, that wished to come and drink, came within a few meters of the one male, but it did not even lift its head.
It did not look like the lions are going to make any more movements for the day so we ventured back to camp….Mata Mata will have to be done another day.

On our way back I got my first ever decent shot of an African Hoopoe…I find it very difficult to get one of these guys that actually sit still for a few seconds. :roll:

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Back at camp we were greeted by the Ground Squirrels…I love these rascals.

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We had a wonderful evening with Katydownunder and Francolin coming over for a braai….good company in the perfect setting :dance:


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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:17 am 
14 November: Urikaruus

I will also have to split this day into two posts…was a very good day! 8)

We were out of camp at 05:30 and decided to head south. For the first time there were some clouds in the sky….this made for a spectacular sunrise…and we hoped it will bring rain.

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Early morning in the Kalahari I always find myself in a dilemma….I do not know where to look….I know I’m suppose to look for animals but I’m always so fascinated by the spoor in that sandy roads….and my “spoor trekking” has on one or two occasions actually paid off. Early morning, before other vehicles drive over the spoor, the road is like the morning newspaper, telling you what has happened during the night.

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Not far from camp we found a big herd of giraffes… nowadays they are actually a regular sighting in the Auob.


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We found these 3 Yellow Mongooses basking in the morning sun

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Just by chance we spotted a rabbit…our first rabbit sighting in daytime for Kgalagadi….any idea what type of rabbit this is?

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We had our first Spotted Hyena Sighting….there was however something odd with hyena….at one point it was walking in circles. We initially thought it was distressed by our presence. Only when it eventually walked towards us and crossed the road behind us, did we notice that both its eyes looked dim….it is possibly blind or half blind in both eyes.

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A Tawny Eagle gave me a great pose where it was sitting in a tree right next to the road…was able to get very close to it.

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The SO got a nice shot of a Spotted Thick-knee.

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At Gemsbokplein we found the sad sight of a young Eland that died right in the middle of the road. The upside was that we got close to White-backed Vultures that was also right next to the road.

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We drove up to the lookout and from there my SO got an eye-level shot of vultures in a tree.

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On our way back to camp, at Kamqua, we again found a herd of giraffe

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Just before Urikaruus my SO spotted a Southern White-faced Scops-Owl.

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Photo taken by SO

To be continued… :wink:


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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:28 am 
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Lovely photos Jumbo! I particularly like the sunrise and the yellow mongeese.

The rabbit is a scrub hare I think.

Cheers
Craig


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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:49 pm 
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Really beautiful photos Jumbo and SO....what more can I say :clap:

The "rabbit' is either a scrub hare or a cape hare. I think it is rather difficult to tell the difference between the two but I would agree with Craig that it is a scrub hare. I think scrub hares tend to be more brown grey and cape hares more grey. Scrub hares are also larger than cape hares. So a difficult decision !!!
Looking forward to more of this report.
BTW I just love the photo of the two giraffes 'necking" :clap:

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13-15th Oct Kgalagadi Lodge
16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
:) :) :) :) :)


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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:26 am 
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All pics are great but it's the pic of the two giraffes looking to the passing planes that I like most. :clap:

Knowing what I already know I REALLY can't wait for the next installments.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:32 am 
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Salva wrote:
All pics are great but it's the pic of the two giraffes looking to the passing planes that I like most. :clap:


I can just imagine what they must be saying to each other.

(Cue Keanu Reeves voice)

Giraffe #1: Dude, what's that?
Giraffe #2: Whoa, cool, isn't that the new Airbus?
Giraffe #1: Yeah, I think it is... Wicked...
Giraffe #2: Fully.

:)


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Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:59 am 
14 November: Urikaruus (cont.)

Hope this post is in line with the new rules….30 photos, total size about 810 kb….less than the 1000 kb rule but more than 15 photos? …the rule is a bit confusing in this regard. :?

By the time we got back to camp after our morning drive, all the clouds we saw the morning were burned away. I mentioned to the tourist assistant that this was sad because I so hoped they will bring rain. He looked towards the north and said to me that we should be getting rain by the evening. Looking at the clear blue sky, I asked him how he knows that the rain will come. He said that if the clouds gather behind the dune to the north then the rain would come. I have to admit, I was a tad sceptical about his forecast because you could barely see just one cloud behind the dunes.
Later that afternoon thick clouds started drifting in! :D

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It was a probably the hottest day we had during our trip. I believe it was because there was actually a bit of humidity in the air. We tried to have our siesta but it was just so hot! I then remembered something my parents use to do when they lived in Botswana ….we soaked our towels and covered ourselves with these wet towels….with the fan running full speed and the evaporation, these towels get icy cold…feels like you are underneath an aircon….so we had a nice relaxing siesta

Later the afternoon a giraffe came for a drink at the waterhole.

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We decided to try and get to Mata Mata again and possibly stop at Veertiende Boorgat where we saw the two male lion the previous day. While we were getting our things together, Katydownunder and Francolin stopped on there way out, to tell us that somebody told them that that morning there were a big pride of lions at Veertiende Boorgat….this “somebody” I only later found out was Mashona. 8)
By the time we left we realized we would not make it to Mata Mata and back so we took our drive slow and relaxed, heading to Veertiende Boorgat.

The clouds were now busy packing together and it was beautiful to watch. We took the loop to Dertiende Boorgat and all we found there were fresh spoor…looked like cheetah.

At Veertiende Boorgat we found the lions. The forum was well presented at this sighting….Jumbo and SO, Katy and Francoline, and Mashona and his wife.
We counted 13 lions …the two males we saw the previous day, 3 females and 8 cubs of various ages. We might have counted wrong though because some people said there were 14.

One of the females had 3 very small cubs. Due to the approaching storm the light was unfortunately not very good for photography :( ….the lions were also quite far…photos are cropped.

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She kept them away from the others. At one point two of here cubs ventured closer to a teenager that was lying close by. The teenager sneered at the two and the female jumped up.

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She charged the teenager.

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A dust cloud went up as she got hold of it.

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One of the males, that a few seconds before appeared to be dead, jumped up and charged in.

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He did not actually do anything; just his presence diffused the situation.

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The teenager scattered to join the rest of the pride while the mother reunited with her cubs…all they were interested in was food.

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After all the activity the male needed some relief :lol:

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A Gemsbok was circling the area…the poor thing obviously needed some water, but with so many lions around… :shock:

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At one point the Gemsbok did venture a bit closer and that made the bunch of lazies under the tree at least lift their heads

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Some Jackals and an African Wild Cat also tried to get to the water but none were brave enough.

It started to cool down a bit and the lions started moving towards the waterhole.

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When the one lioness took up this pose….

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…we knew that this is going to happen, because of what we saw the previous day. The SO got this great shot, I got her where she already landed :cry:

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Another lioness jumped over and the cubs were now contemplating how they are going to overcome the water obstacle.

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Some of the cubs jumped…I got quite a few shot of that…all very nicely blurred.
Too slow shutter speed for the bad light. :doh:

These 3 cubs were not sure about the jumping thing and first “tested the waters”

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The smallest, and bravest, decided that jumping is for sissies and walked through while its siblings looked on in horror. :lol:

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Photo taken by SO

Eventually all the cubs made it onto the waterhole, and what a sight it was to see them all drinking together.

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Photo taken by SO

The two females jumped back and went to lie down while keeping an eye on the antics of their youngsters.

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Photo taken by SO

After the females were gone, it was playtime for the cubs.

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Photo taken by SO

This was such a special sighting, but not just due to the number of lions and all there interactions, the setting was also so beautiful, especially with the dark blue sky of the coming storm.

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Photo taken by me

One by one the cubs jumped back, and back on “dry land’, some got overwhelmed by their “cat instinct” and started stalking and chasing the doves that visited the water.
Please excuse the quality of these photos; the light was really not good.

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Photo taken by me

Image Larger view
Photo taken by me


The two females and their cubs left the waterhole.

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Photo taken by me

The female with the 3 small cubs took this opportunity to come and drink.

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Photo taken by me

Image Larger view
Photo taken by SO

The sky was getting darker from the storm.

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Photo taken by SO

It was not easy leaving this amazing sighting…would have wanted to stay with them all night!

On our way back I drove my SO nuts….we had to get back to camp but I just could not stop taking photos of the dramatic clouds and sunset.

Image Larger view
Photo taken by me

Image Larger view
Photo taken by SO

That night we had to settle with frying our steaks in a pan due to a severe windstorm, sadly only a few drops of rain fell.


Last edited by Jumbo on Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:51 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2005 6:17 pm
Posts: 196
Location: Cape Town
And now I know why I got the "ICE MAIDEN STARE" when driving slowly up next to you and asking the obvious....
The other fools from the Lodge had made your day

And little old me minding my own business gets the why don't you &^%$&( or go away ) treatment!!!!

Its great to read your reports, all from the same time and in some instances the same place.

Some great photographs, thanks for the memories


Steve


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