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Unread postPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 4:09 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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SANP FORUM

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8460

THE WEB SITE WITH DETAILS

http://www.tllf.org.za/cheetahs/


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Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2008 6:36 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: The country of compromises
@Katy, thank you for all the comments. I also like the secretary bird pics a lot. And Nossob, well...no pic can do it justice.
@p@m, thank you.
@Mashone, thanks: I will certainly contact Gus Mills in one of the coming days.
@Annalie, the WE isn't over yet and here is the next installment. Now what do I get from you for being such a good boy :wink:

Day 6 continued

We decided to give the Marie se draai loop another go, despite the horrible condition of the road there. And were we rewarded for tasting our own kidneys? Well…yes. We saw our first (and only) vultures of the trip. Two white backed vultures to be precise.

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A bit strange perhaps but we always have to work hard to see vultures in this park. A bit before Dikbaardskolk we saw one of my favourite birds.

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I simply love bea-eaters. Swallow tailed bea-eater was a first timer for me although me thinks that is mainly because of the lack of intrest for birds during our previous visits. Luckily this has changed now. Must say that the coming days we would be spoilt with sightings of this colourful creatures.

The dune road was beautiful as always and gave us korhaan, jackal and steenbok. And than we saw the Auob valley again. We hurried a bit to Urikaruus in order to unpack as soon as possible and to have a relaxed evening drive. We were of course also simply anxious to see this much praised camp. Well, we were impressed. The set up is awesome and while we entered the kitchen unit for the first time we were greeted by 8 wildebeest at the waterhole. These would however prove to be the only visitors we would see during our two day visit. There does seem to be a problem with the quality of the water. But nevermind this: Urikaruus is a LOVELY camp and we will never visit KTP again without taking this camp in our itinerary. A nice added bonus was the ranger: it was Marius who we had met in Kielie Krankie.

And than it was time for our evening drive. We had one wish: giraffe. We had never seen these giants in this park before and we could hardly wait to see them in the Kalahari sands. We were not to be disappointed. Only a few km from Urikaruus towards Mata Mata we saw two on the rim.

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At 13de boorgat we felt even luckier. Three giraffe came for a drink. Lovely! Just a shame for the bad light conditions…against the sun!

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A bit further…bat-eared foxes: six of them and on a mission! This just proves that every visit to a game park is different. Untill now I had hardly seen any batties in daylight during all my visits to Africa. This visit however, in the Auob valley, we saw them on EVERY game drive. And seeing six of them together digging the sand for insects was really special.

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Driving back to camp we saw yet again two giraffe. I was hoping to see them but it seems that any drive north from Urikaruus delivers several of them. The day was concluded by a lovely but VERY windy evening.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 7:58 pm 
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Location: The country of compromises
Wannabe Nerd, Annalie, Dreamer, lirritma, anne catherine, Dotty, Bert, Pumbaa and Mashona; thanks! The giraffe at 13de boorgat were a special moment. We are also happy with the result. What makes the first pic kinda special is the shape of the splash...sort of an "S" but laying on its back.

Wannabe Nerd and Dreamer: Marius is a nice guy that's for sure but when we came back after a certain game drive I could have hit him on the head.

"I am afraid I have bad news for you" he said. Now some of you know that my father is pretty ill so what does one think when a ranger comes running to you as soon as you arrive in a camp...Also, keeping in mind our "Kielie Krankie booking crusade" the second thing I was thinking about was that once again somebody messed up and they (well he) would kick us out....

It turned out that he had not cleaned our unit. The couple who stayed there before us had taken the keys of the unit and since we had locked the door he could not enter without the spare keys. Pffffffffffffffff......what a relief. And he was relieved as well as he found out we didn't really mind that he had not cleaned (we didn't even expect the rangers to do that). :lol:

Final thing: Guess who took the keys of their Urikaruus unit with them when leaving for Upington? Yip...Salva and SO :redface: . Poor Marius had NO keys for unit 1 for at least one night. We found out just before leaving the park so were able to return the keys at Willem Feris at TR reception.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:42 am 
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Location: The country of compromises
Bert, the couple before us that took the other keys were...dutch :lol:

Africandreams, Ilie and anne-marie! Thanks, bedankt, un tout grand merci!

20/04/08: day 7

This morning we would drive to Mata Mata and back. 13de Boorgat, 14de Boorgat, Dalkeith,…how many times have I red these words on this forum with “lion, beautiful male, adorable cheetah cubs, active cats, nice pride, close to the road, and so on…” in the same alinea. No wonder our expectations were high. Unfortunately luck was not on our side: oryx, springbok, hartebeest,…1 vulture quite far was about the most exciting sighting this morning. Good thing the giraffes are in this part of the park. Allways great to see them and in KTP I feel they have extra appeal.

At 13de boorgat we saw a YR but by the time I turned the car around it was out of sight. A serious investigation learned me that this must have been Nats and Ingala. Sorry to have missed you. At 14de boorgat the great couple from Richards Bay was met again. They told us about a big male lion at Sitzas waterhole but we never saw him.

Oryx seen from the viewpoint near Urikaruus waterhole:

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Arguably the most photographed tree and weavers nest in the park:

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Red Hartebeest near Sitzas

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After breakfast in a very calm Mata Mata (the camp that from all camps has least appeal to me) we drove back not hoping for too much any more. A springbok was posing beautifully against a blue sky.

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At Dalkeith we saw a colony of red headed finches. Also a first timer for us (but as I said before most probably because of the lack in intrest for birds during previous visits).

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Close to camp we saw giraffe again. We were hoping that we would see them coming down for a drink from our unit at Urikaruus but that was not to be.

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Don’t ask me why but I like the folowing pic. I feel it emphasises the elegance of these gracious animals.

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Time now for a relaxed lunch at Urikaruus before our last evening drive in the park.

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From our balcony I saw this shaft-tailed? Wydah. A first time as well (but this is most probably …well you know)

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 1:56 pm 
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Dreamer, MM, p@m, Ollie, jazil, Dotty, African dreams, Ingrid60, Anne-Marie, annalie, Illie, Anne Catherine and wanderw....THANK YOU SO MUCH! Your words inspire me to continue the report (not that I wouldn't do it without your words but is much nicer this way :wink: )

MM, about the beer. OF COURSE...that's why drinking castle or windhoek does not effect belgians when trying to spot the cats! :lol:

Allrighty folks....day 7 continued

We decided to drive to Munro and back for our last evening drive, a decision that was made in order to maximise our chances of seeing leopard. Maybe the mother and her cub would still be around? Anyhow, on the sighting board of Mata Mata we had seen a "leopard pin" at Munro.

A bit before Kamqua waterhole...A bea-eater! Yippee. And no branch between the bird and us this time.

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We were of course treated with a few of the usual suspects, the nicest of them being a small herd of springbok feeding next to the road.

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And than between Rooibrak and Montrose...batties!!! Again! Seven of them and I even managed to get them in one picture! Great! We stayed with them for quite a while but they kept their distance.

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On to Munro. Between Auchterlonie and Kamfersboom we saw the biggest herd of springbok I have ever seen. They came from over the rim and were heading towards Kamfersboom. We stopped counting at +- 400! Here is a bit less than the first half of the gang!

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We left them knowing very well that we would see them again in a moment. At Munro: more swallow tailed bea-eaters. We even witnessed a kill. :wink:

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No leopard! And a good thing too. I don't want to sound blasé but I did have the luck till now to have quite a few good leopard sightings in the past. Since we didn't see any leopard here we turned around and that made us arrive just in time to be a witness of THE spectacle of this trip a bit past kamfersboom. For all you cat lovers...it involves no cats or no "special" animal but I wouldn't trade this sighting for any other one.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 5:19 pm 
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Location: The country of compromises
anne-marie, lirritma and Mashona: thx, the 7 batties were indeed a great sighting!

Annalie...I'm sorry. I hurried with the next part :wink:

Day 7 continued...Why springboks are called springboks.

As we were passing Kamfersboom on our return to urikaruus we noticed e big cloud of dust in the valley. It was the enormous springbok herd that was treating us with an unforgettable show...

Let me try to describe. The whole herd, in a long row, was climbing up the rim till half the heighth and than came down starting to walk faster and jumping a bit untill they passed by a lone tree...that tree was the mark for them to start running like they were chased by a cheetah, you know like at full speed changing direction and than at the end jumping...they ALL did this without exception in groups between 10 and 25 which meant that for more than half an hour we saw at least 10 bokkies run and jump. But that was not all...were they gathered again, about 300 metres past that lone tree, they were gradually forming one enormous circle but sometimes they broke that circle in mass and 50, 60 of them started running around and pronking and jumping...We were short of eyes...the whole valley seemed filled by running and jumping bokkies and DUST. And the sound...THE SOUND! You know the sound of horse races? When 10 horses come running towards the finish? Pretty impressive hey? Well, multiply that sound by 50 or so...this added to the images and in golden hours made the whole scene one of our top scenes ever.

Pictures can never do this scene justice but I'll try. These are only fractions of what we saw, even in pictures where you will see several springboks move...

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The next ones satisfy me, since the bokkies are running towards us, which means the focus of camera and lens did their job...

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More pics to follow if you want to :wink: I know it's not cats or anything and I realise I can not tell this story by pictures only (if only I was Michele Nel and posted films :lol: )

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:13 am 
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Location: The country of compromises
Lirritma, Dreamer, Wanderw, Dotty, p@m, Suej, Pumbaa, Anne-marie, Ingrid60 and Arks, thanks. It was indeed an amazing sighting. I promised some more pics: here they are.

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A break from running and jumping...

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...and back to jumping mode.

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More to follow and who knows some other animals :lol:

Euh Ingrid...your english is excellent you know and more than good enough to express what you felt in Etosha. We felt indeed exactly the same when we saw this spectacle. Maybe all others have had some sightings like this too but the way you describe how you felt, from you I am 100% sure. Unforgettable, isn't it?

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:33 pm 
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Location: The country of compromises
Dotty...many thanks! Not a bad idea actually!

Sorry people but here are some more...

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Not entirely sharp because focused on the "spectator"

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And finally...

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If there would be any springbok katers among you people...it is time to relax now :lol:

If we wanted to make it to Urikaruus in time without having to speed we had to leave this ongoing show.

We saw the 7 batties yet again but a bit too far for nice pics this time. When we drove up the viewpoint close to kamqua to enjoy the sun going down...3 more batties!!! the Auob gave us 0 lions, 0 leopards and 0 cheetah and whatever people may say, that WAS a disappointment. The batties and the bokkies somehow made up for it. The 3 foxes were closer than we had them before. This AND the light resulted in one of my personal faves of the trip!

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Close to camp we witnessed a beautiful moonrise.

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In camp itself we had the most lovely evening...us, the fire, silence, the stars and...an unexpected visitor.

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A great way to end this last and probably nicest afternoon and evening of the trip.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:32 pm 
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Location: The country of compromises
21/04: final day

Leaving Urikaruus proved to be hard going. Not only did we have to say goodbye for quite some time from one of our absolute favourite camps anywhere in Africa, we also had to say goodbye to a very nice chap guarding over it (Marius) and on top of that we realised very well that this evening we would be spending outside the park. Sitting by the Orange river is of course also something to look forward to but still….

But eventually we succeeded in leaving. Driving down the valley we saw two giraffe coming from the waterhole moving relatively fast towards the next waterhole. We reckon they must have past our units when we were packing our stuff hoping for fresh water but being forced to move on because of the poor quality of the water there.

The Auob valley refused to show us big cats and since this was dawn and not dusk, there were no batties around either. What did we see before reaching Auchterlonie? Apart from a steenbokkie and some gemsbok: nothing. Close to Auchterlonie we had a greater kestrel

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…and at Gemsbokplein a crowned lapwing (at least that’s what I think it is). We saw some of these birds before but this was the first time in this trip that one of them allowed me to take a more or less decent pic.

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Now we heard that the Nossob road from TR to Kij Kij was open again so we took the lower dune road from there to go and check out “lion highway”. Well, no lions nor other cats. But what we did see made up for it. First a Tawny in flight allowing for some reasonable pics…

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…some remaining reasons for closing off the road and some remaining eland carcass on the road…

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…and than: something I had been wanting to see from the first second I entered the KTP years ago but had never seen…till now. A cape cobra raiding a weaver’s nest! To make things perfect…they were two! Absolutely breathtaking to see them go from hole to hole looking for anything edible.
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…and the other one

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After quite some time we left the snakes in peace (to all sociable weavers on this forum: forgive me for this expression) and decided to do a last drive up the Auob valley. It didn’t once more deliver the cats but it did deliver a postcard to send to friends for easter…some extremely cute baby ostrich.

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And driving past Samenvloeiing for the last time we notice the two cobras had left the tree and were on the ground now. Here is one of them once more

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And than it was time to leave. After returning the Urikaruus keys at the Twee Rivieren reception (sorry, Marius) we drove through the gate…a gate we would not be seeing back for quite some time. It almost moved us to tears.

THX ALL FOR READING MY REPORT.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:37 pm 
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Location: The country of compromises
Annalie, Cheetah80, Michele, restio, Illie, Toddelelfe, Mashona, lirritma, anne cathérine, Pumbaa, ingrid60, Katy, JenB, Dotty, Billyf, aboon and wanderw: many many thanks for your great comments on my TR and pictures. It was extremely great to write and relive my trip together with you people.

Later than I intended but here they are anyway: MY CONCLUSIONS.

I have been fortunate in a way that I have visited magnificent places and parks like Etosha, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kruger, Moremi, Chobe,…After this visit, KTP is still standing strong as my second favourite park. This has got nothing to do with the gameviewing, in fact in terms of gameviewing KTP for us personally doesn’t come close to the other parks named here (although it is still good, of course). No it has all to do with…ATMOSPHERE. On this point imho KTP wins from any place I have visited till now hands down. And the strange thing is…it is hard to describe to people who have never been there. The light, the colours, the sand, the camps, the people, the raptors, the “end of the world” feeling in some places, the private sightings,….and many things more. But go and explain that to people who dream of Tuscany, the Provence or Andalucia….When asked what it is that attracts me to this park I usually answer people that they should go and check it out for themselves.

Positive:

- Nossob: I raved about the staff there and I will continue to do so. Contrary to what some people had warned me for I still found it to be an intimate camp despite its “size”. Brief: I can not imagine a visit to KTP without spending a couple of nights in Nossob.

- The wilderness camps: KK, U and GK! All very different, all very attractive. These Wilderness camps were “first time experiences for us”. I heard many good things about them but they even exceeded our expectations (apart from the gameviewing, all three of them were extremely dull on that part).

- The Kgalagadi princess and the fact that we were alone with her for quite some time

- The batties

- The springbok spectacle

- The cobras in the nest

- THE PEOPLE WE MET!!!!!!!

Negative:

- The “KK booking” history. I still find it rather unbelievable that SANP did absolutely nothing to solve a problem mentioned to them. And if they did or tried to do they never let me know. Not even a “sorry”. I should send my grandmother to them. She taught me when I was a little boy that "saying sorry" costs nothing.

- Bad roads in some parts of the park although I wouldn’t go as far as some people in complaining about them. To us, the stretch between Dikbaardskolk and Nossob was particularly bad and the Marie se Draai loop was horrible. All the rest, though not in a good condition, was fairly manageable.

- A bit too many boring moments and especially the complete lack of cat sightings in the Auob valley.

- Once more the hyenas, and particularly the brown ones, escaped me: next time I WILL bait them, nevermind SANP with their stupid rules :twisted:

Last thing, I want to thank every one who wished my SO and father well. You guys did a great job. Both are back home and are doing great! Cheers!

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