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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 4:20 pm 
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Day 6: PM Nossob

I drove back out at lunchtime and did the Marie se Draai loop. I drove it very slowly, because I was looking for the dried up eland I’d seen in December (yeah, I know, a little weird, but I wanted to show it to Cactus Scot). :whistle: We didn’t find it.

At the waterhole, there was the biggest group of gemsbok I’d ever seen! It was fantastic. About 50 or 60 of them. They’re completely spectacular animals. We also saw a pretty impressive Black-Chested Snake eagle on
the drive. :cam:

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On the way back there was something in the road- snake! I was driving this time, so I did my snake road-blocking thing. This snake was a new one for me. It was obviously an ordinary molesnake, but I’d never seen an adult before (road kill on the way to WCNP doesn’t count). I had only seen juveniles in KTP before. He was quite big! We watched him for a while as he flicked his tongue and eventually crossed the road. It was seriously cool. Very impressive snake. :dance:

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Back at camp two hornbills landed on my car! Scary, as I was rummaging around for the Amarula in the car at the time and just heard two loud thumps. We did a little car dusting, ate some chips and headed for the hide.

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There was a family in the campsite with quite unruly children. They were running around and screaming in the hide, much to the annoyance of everyone else in the hide, who kept shooting angry glances at the children’s parents. The parents kept on encouraging the running and the screaming. :rtm: Grrrr. I almost didn’t notice though because I had made myself the most extreme hot chocolate ever. It was nearly all powder, with a little water and lots of marshmallows which made it into a gooey, thick paste that I ate with a spoon. :thumbs_up:

At the hide, we saw what I thought was the coolest bird of the trip. CS and I immediately thought ‘kestrel’, but a dig through the bird book revealed it to be a Red-Necked Falcon. Gorgeous bird!

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We started to consider the possibility of staying one more night in Nossob. I know the place was fully booked, but at least half the campsites were vacant, and we weren’t even using an actual campsite. I was desperate to try to make it to Union’s End on this trip. I had never been there before. If we kept to our schedual, we’d have to do Union’s End tomorrow. CS still wasn’t feeling well and I would have had to go alone. BUT, if we stayed one more night, we could relax tomorrow, try Union’s End the next day, and well… stay another night in fabulous Nossob. One more night also meant we had a chance at a night drive, as the driver was due to arrive the day after we were due to leave. On the other hand, there were far more sightings in TR, including leopard sightings every day. Stay in Nossob, or give myself a tiny shot at seeing a leopard for the first time? We remained undecided, but left the possibility open.

At 5, I left alone to do the MSD loop again. Not many animals about, but the most perfect, perfect sunset. So perfect that it very nearly made me late for the gate.

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At 6, we were back in camp and met up with the other forumite in camp, who turned out to be Matthys- I hadn’t expected to meet her in KTP! She treated us to very yummy fresh bread, jam, cheese and Savannah, as well as the most wonderful conversation. Forumite Red Dune popped in as well.

I didn’t say anything at the time :redface: , but since arriving in KTP, I kept on saying with disgust to CS, ‘Ugh, I wish I could meet the guy who made the new sightings boards’. The new boards are really, really pretty and beautifully done, magnetic and everything. KTP was in desperate need of new boards and the new ones are going to last for decades to come…. But… they don’t have yesterday’s sightings! Maybe I’m just a sad person, but I love seeing what people saw ‘yesterday’. Also, some cool animals like Eland are no longer on the new board, which is quite carnivore heavy. Oh well, ironically, I learned that night that Red Dune was the one responsible for the boards. So I DID meet the guy who made the boards. He was very nice. The boards are very nice… but….what about elands? And yesterday?... okay, I’m going to shut up now :redface: :redface: . Love the new sightings boards :thumbs_up:

Loved Matthys as well. I wish she was staying in Nossob a little longer. Oh, and she insisted I take a photo of my silly hat and post it here. So here I am having a great time at Matthys’ chalet, wearing my dorky hat.

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After a fantastic evening with the wonderful Matthys, CS and I headed over to the hide again at 10pm. There wasn’t much going on, and I was almost asleep, so I wandered back to the tent while CS stayed behind. Once again, I was completely blown away by the moonlight. I still hadn’t used my flashlight once for walking around in the dark.

Wonderfully happy, and full of yummy bread, I fell asleep long before Cactus Scot got back.


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:17 am 
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Day 6 AM (yeah I noticed that this is my second 'day 6'. Nossob isn't some sort of weird time-space black hole thingy, this is in-fact the real 'day 6'. Yesterday was Day 5)

I was up at 7, and decided to head south this morning. Cactus Scot stayed behind again today.

As I came around a corner, I saw something orange in the road. Jackal? But it didn’t look right. It was really far away. Instead of reaching for my camera, I went for the binoculars instead, which turned out to be a mistake! It didn’t look much like a jackal. It looked very much like a Caracal! Its behaviour didn’t match a jackal either. As I edged my car closer to try and get a better look, it paused, looked at me for a moment and hopped over the bank. In my experience, jackals tend to sit by the road and wait for you. But no photo! Arrrrgg. I was quite confident it was a Caracal, but not confident enough to check it off on my list. I’ll never know whether I’ve seen a Caracal in KTP or not…

At Casper se Draai, there were lots of lion tracks in the road, as well as many agitated antelopes, but no cats. Even more tracks on Marie se Draai.

I got back to camp to find a spotted hyena dot on the sightings board- at Nossob! I went out to the hide and asked CS if she’d seen the hyenas. She had, and had put the dot on the board.

She said that when she entered the hide that morning at 7:20 (right before I left), :wall: :wall: :wall: there were four people sitting in the hide talking about their daily lives at normal volumes, so she assumed there was nothing at the waterhole. But… there were four hyenas! :huh:

CS got some beautiful photos. I wasn’t at all jealous…. Sad to learn that Matthys had missed the hyenas as well. She loves them so much. Anyway, totally awesome sighting! :cam:

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Spent the rest of the morning and lunchtime watching wildebeest at the hide. CS introduced me to the herd she’d been watching for the last two days without me. People kept popping in to the hide, muttering, ‘just wildebeest….’ And walking out. They have NO IDEA what they were missing. :dance: CS pointed out one who was obviously the dominant male. We watched him for a few hours. We named him Boris and watched him charge everything that tried to drink, or walked near him, or looked at him, or looked at anything else. CS got some incredible photos!

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I was on the lookout for forumite PNF, who was supposed to be ‘in town’ tonight. They had been so helpful to me before coming on this trip and I didn’t want to miss them.

We decided we’d definitely stay an extra night at Nossob. I didn’t realize it would be so hard to explain our plans to the very, very unhelpful (and not entirely bright) lady at reception. At least with an extra night in Nossob, we’d hopefully get our night drive, as well as a trip to Union’s tomorrow. The night drive was a little in doubt, as the lady in reception, who’d told us two days earlier that the driver would be back on the 8th, was now saying that Nossob never had drives of any sort, and didn’t seem to understand what I was asking. :wall:

I was sad about giving up on my TR leopard, but the lure of Union’s End was too much. I might see a leopard in the future (not likely), but I didn’t know when I’d get the chance to go to Union’s End again.

I realised we were low on Amarula and we bought some more in the shop. I’ll definitely have an alcohol problem by the time this trip is up… :lotsocoffee: <----- me. (imagine this is Amarula, not coffee...)


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:44 am 
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Oh, I love the hyena pics :D ! Thank you Moose and CS :dance:
The cammers were watching with you that day (June 7 ?) :clap: .....please look here .

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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:50 am 
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Day 6 PM

I went down to Casper se Draai again. There wasn’t much about. I did get some cool bird shots on that drive though, and the landscapes were spectacular. :cam:

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Back at camp, I met PNF, who turned out to be two people, P aNd F. They were really nice and we had a chat. They invited us over for wine later in the evening.

CS and I made soup for supper. Well, CS made soup, and she hadn’t realized that the whole time in Nossob, I’d been using our bottled water to make soup/ hot chocolate/ oatmeal/ pap, rather than the tap water she thought I’d been using. We stood in the laundry room sipping on soup that tasted very much like detergent of some sort. It wasn’t nice. We poured it down the sink and had roosterkoek with peanut butter and honey instead. :thumbs_up:

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We wandered over to PNF, who were with equally cool friends from Swaziland. We had more great conversation, and I really wished Matthys could have met them. They treated us to the most delicious curry and bread- such a luxury! Sitting under the Kalahari sky (with a full moon!), talking to experienced travellers about African safaris is completely magical. :popcorn:

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It was after 9pm when we left. We headed down to the hide, but the wind was strong and cold and it wasn’t a pleasant place to be. We went to bed and I obsessed over my decision to stay in Nossob. We had no guarantee of a night drive tomorrow night and I was kicking myself about narrowing my leopard chances. CS told me she was happy either way and wasn’t too fussed about Union’s End. We would decide what to do in the morning. :|

Didn’t sleep well tonight. I didn’t know what to do in the morning and I was feeling quite sick (chemical flavoured chicken noodle soup will do that to you…). :slap:


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:31 pm 
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Day 7: Union's End!

In the morning, it was decided- we would go to Union’s End today! I forgot to mention that last night, PNF told us that John (the guide) was in Nossob. It looked like night drives we ON and a trip to reception confirmed this. We booked our drive and at 7:30, we opened up the north gate and drove out. I knew it would be an exciting day. I love nothing more than seeing animals in KTP that I’ve never seen there before, and today, there would be THREE big ones! But I wasn’t to know that this morning… :dance:

The roads were quiet and graded nicely… to a point (namely Bedinkt)… after which they deteriorated into the worst roads we’d encountered on the trip yet. Someone (can’t remember who), had told us that after Polentswa, ‘the roads are smooth as glass’. I hung on to this as we bounced over the corrugations. They were wrong. :doh:

But by Polentswa, I had a bigger problem. My car had been reasonably full of gas, but I hadn’t bothered to top it up before we left that morning. In the few short kilometres to Polentswa, my gas needle had gone from all the way up, to half empty. What?! :huh: I swear this car uses more gas than a Range Rover at times. We had only done about 25% of the day’s mileage, and our gas tank was almost 50% empty. I can’t do math, but I knew this was not good.

We weren’t going to make it to Union’s End, because of my dumb car. :wall: I wasn’t happy. We pressed on north, with the understanding that we would have to turn back for Nossob when there was just under half a tank left. I doubted we’d get to Union’s End, and was so frustrated that we’d get so close before being forced to turn around.

Miraculously, my car got over its identity crisis and decided it was a small Honda, and not a Range Rover, and began to drink accordingly. I was really enjoying the drive. Then just north of the Kaa turnoff, we had our first excitement… ELAND! :dance:

Eland are a KTP first for me. I’d always hear about them in the park, but I’ve never seen one. And here was a small herd. They were far away, but they totally count. It was a special sighting I’ll never forget.

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Then, near the bathrooms at Union’s End (the actual names of places get far too long and complicated that far north), we came around a corner to find this sight:

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She was gorgeous and huge, and less than two feet from the car. She didn’t mind us at all. I couldn’t get any good photos because there was no way my window was going down. Lessons learned in Addo. When I tried to crack the window down a little, she became very agitated. It wasn’t going to happen. So my photos all have my pyjamas in them, whereas CS’s are a bit better. We had the lion all to ourselves and stayed about 20 minutes. We also had the entire north all to ourselves. This is why KTP is perfect. :thumbs_up:

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The lion did make it harder to get out at the bathrooms though. Her friends had also been in the area recently, and had left their prints all over the place. It was an adventure.

Then, with the gas needle just resting on half, we made it! Union’s End! I’m a huge dork, but the thought of standing in a place where three countries meet is totally overwhelming and awesome. There were lion prints all over the place here too, but we still got out (if you’re not allowed out, why is there a board to go and read?). We figured we were allowed out.

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CS put her hand in Namibia (she didn’t chicken out this time), and I took photos of the ‘melty’ sign, which was pretty funny.

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I can now look at a map of SA, and say I’ve been to the ‘pointy bit’. That was totally worth the drive. We only stayed for 10 minutes or so, as we wanted to get back to rest before our night drive.

On the way back, our eyes were on alert for this lion, who had obviously moved into the grass. Then CS saw it. It was in the deep grass near to where the lion had been sitting on the road. We binoculared it, but could hardly see it in the grass. And here it is, one of my worst, but most exciting KTP photos ever:

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That isn’t one lion, but it’s two WARTHOGS! :dance: Their heads came up just long enough to make out their tusks, but not long enough to get a photo. WOW. I knew warthogs existed in KTP, but I’ve never seen one and I doubt many people have. After Addo just a few weeks ago, I never imagined a warthog sighting could take my breath away, but it totally did. This was one of my KTP highlights and I couldn’t get over how cool it was!

There were lots of lion prints at Geniab bathrooms. That coupled with the ‘wobbly toilet’, made the stop quite exciting. I understand the need to have porta-potties that far north, but do they have to move like that? It was like being in a bathroom on a train or an airplane during turbulence. Kind of fun actually…

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We returned to Nossob in the afternoon. Started buying goodies from the shop. I was really tired after the drive and played games on my ipod for the rest of the afternoon.

I got to check off two new animals today, but remember I said I’d seen three new animals? Night drive… coming soon! :cam:


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:10 pm 
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Pumbaa: The drive to Union's End was definitely more worthwhile! I'm guessing warthogs only stay up in the north like that.

GavinW: You saw zip at Union's End? I'm sorry :( Just means you need to go back and try again! :dance:

Lionspoon: Oh my gosh, that's so cool. I kept thinking that when I was in the hide. It's really cool to know that there are people watching the same thing, thousands of miles away. Who invented webcam? They're awesome!

Micetta: Thank you! No work today. I've been sick all week. I'm heading back in tomorrow though.

billyf: Thanks! Yep, the design on my pj's is totally fabulous. That's so funny that you still had tons of gas when you got back to Nossob. I forgot to mention that happened to me as well. :hmz: Maybe that road has weird geological properties that cause gas consumption to go all weird... I watch a lot of sci-fi...


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:08 pm 
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Day 7: The Nossob Night Drive

Lessons learned from Mata Mata. I brought along my sleeping bag and my hot water bottle this time. We waited by reception and as soon as I saw John, I bounded up to him. “PleasecanIdothespotlights??!”. Yes, I looked a little desperate. :tongue:

John agreed and told me I’d have to sit up front with him. It was pretty cool, I had both a spotlight and a gun. :sniper:


We sat chatting to our fellow night drivers before setting off. The other spotlight operator looked suspiciously like our Mata Mata spotlight guy. Great. They seemed nice enough though, and told us they’d seen a leopard today at ‘Mary’s… something…’. :wall: There were cheetah sightings on the board at Marie se Draai. I thought, ‘awww, bless their socks. They’re young and inexperienced and they think a cheetah is a leopard’. I didn’t tell them, but the eight-year old know-it-all in me really wanted to. I can be a real jerk sometimes. Not proud of it. :redface:

Another couple told us that our lion cubs at 14th were ‘no more’. They said the cubs had been killed by bigger lions. I choose not to believe this. The cubs are doing awesome, and are as cute and carefree as ever. They are living fabulous lives and will never die. :dance:

So we set off towards Marie se Draai. I love how night drives take you on roads you can’t drive on. The feeling of driving through the bush like that was so cool. I got CS to take a picture of the back of my head. I felt very safari-ish. John parked in the riverbed and we were allowed out to watch the sunset. It was perfect. We were watched by vultures.

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As the sun set, critters started to appear in the distance. Bat-eared foxes! This photo is my favourite photo of the trip, not because it’s a good photo (because obviously, it’s a rubbish photo), but because a highlight of this trip was being able to watch six BEF’s walking in a row, towards me. The moment the photo was taken was so special! :cam:

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When it went dark, we climbed back into the truck. My light went on, but obviously the guy in the back didn’t put his on until it had been dark for quite some time and John asked him to put it on. :wall:

There was nothing at Rooikop. I was struggling with my spotlight. I was low and the bushes were high, and I couldn’t shine over them. I felt like people were getting mad at me, because they were all much higher up. I would have been mad at me. It was frustrating. Not helped by the guy behind me who brought his own spotlight and kept double checking areas I had scanned. :(

We parked at Marie se Draai waterhole and turned off the engine to scan. I was on the waterhole side and got lots of gemsbok eyeshine in the riverbed. Then as we were about to leave, the spot on the other side of the truck picked up another set of eyes. :shock:

‘Lion’ announced John casually (does he ever get excited?). ‘Very big lion….’, he continued a moment later. Then in the same relaxed tone… ‘No, it’s a leopard’.

What? What? WHAT? :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: I jumped into action and grabbed the binoculars. The leopard was well hidden, but on the move. I could clearly see it with the binoculars, as it moved from bush to bush. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was looking at a leopard. Only about 20-30 feet away. My very first leopard ever.

I managed to get a very blurry video where at one point, you can make out that there is an animal in the darkness. I’m keeping that video forever. My first leopard sighting.

I know the forum has a LIT club (which I can’t join), but today I propose a new club: the LOGFAAN society. Leopard On Ground Far Away At Night. To join, you must submit a terrible photo of what could possibly be a leopard, far away, in the darkness. My entry is below:

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I can’t believe I’ve now seen a leopard, and at Marie se Draai of all places. (I felt guilty about being so patronizing towards the couple who said they’d seen a leopard). After days of obsessing over whether I should do Union’s End, or look for a leopard, I never expected both to happen- and in the same day. :dance:

I know most of you have seen leopards, and you have awesome photos of them, but this is really exciting for me! I’m a little disappointed that I can now no longer whine that, ‘I’ll never see a leopard’. That was like my signature whine. It was part of my identity, and I can’t use it anymore. :slap:

After the leopard, John turned back for Nossob. We saw a few owls, and I briefly caught the eyeshine of a Springhare in my spotlight. The drive ended up being very short (no longer than an hour and a half), but very, very memorable. I still wished John was into education and facts though. We saw a leopard, but we learned nothing about them.

The evening was warm. I never needed the sleeping bag I had brought. Back at camp, the hide was very windy, so we didn’t hang around. It was our last night in Nossob, but what an ending!

I fell asleep very happy, not knowing that in 12 or so hours, I’d have a sighting that would completely blow away my leopard… :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:06 pm 
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Day 8: AM

We were up at 6, and totally packed up by 6:40. I was getting really good at taking the tent down in the dark. I can’t promise I still have all my tent pegs though… :whistle:

It was a little overcast this morning. We went to the hide and looked for hyenas. There were none there. As one last tribute to Nossob, I held my stuffed monkey in front of the webcam for a few moments, hoping to give a little giggle to an early morning cam-watcher somewhere in the world. I also hoped to find him on the forums when I got home (but it seems the cams were actually down that morning…). :cam:

Did the Marie se Draai loop hoping for leopards. None. We did see the leopard prints though. The sky was sprinkling, but the sun was out. It’s the dry season. It doesn’t rain this time of year. :hmz:

Sightings were scarce this morning, so I started to sing my honey badger songs :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: (CS put up with A LOT on this trip. I can be a really, really irritating person). “I love honey badgers, I love honey badgers, where are all the honey badgers, I want to see yooooooooou honey badgers, I love you honey badgers, where are you honey badgers?”, to any tune I could find. I suspect I’m tone deaf, which didn’t help. Cactus Scot put her ipod on.

At Casper se Draai, we had a fabulous sighting! We were stopped and I was scanning the distant ridge for anything. Nothing. As I was about to move on, I noticed a giant lone Eland, standing right in front of us, right by the waterhole. I’m really not good at animal spotting. :doh:

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The honey badger songs got louder, and I suspect CS’s music did too. Then, just before the picnic spot, I saw something moving on the other side of the river bed. Jackal! We pulled over. A Pale Chanting Goshawk landed in the tree above the two jackals. Then another goshawk joined him. No way! It could only be…. Honey Badgers! :big_eyes: Sure enough, there they were, two little black shapes at the base of the tree. We never would have seen them without the jackals and goshawks. I can’t possibly express how excited I got. It was better than any Christmas morning, even the one where I got a Care Bears sheet set. :dance:

There were two of them. I’m guessing mom and her baby badger. They ran quickly from tree to tree, briefly investigating everything they came across, before rushing on to the next thing. When they reached one tree, mom kept on trying to climb it. We watched as she climbed and fell, then tried again, and fell, and tried again, and fell. Finally she made it… and fell. :thumbs_up:

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We watched for about 20 minutes and were joined by five other cars who came and left. Come on! Honey Badgers! These people left a Honey Badger sighting? Crazy mooses. :wall: I was in love. In love with the honey badgers. They were another first for me. I’d never seen a honey badger and they had been at the top of my ‘want to see’ list. I sung my idiotic honey badger songs all the way to Twee Rivieren. To me, this sighting was far bigger than the leopard. After mommy cheetah with cubs, this was my most memorable and special sighting.

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At the bathrooms, I got the fright of my life. :big_eyes: You all know the bathrooms I’m talking about. The scary ones, where you just know you’re being hunted by something you can’t see, so you’re on edge the whole time. The grass was really long, and suddenly as I walked back towards the car, the bush beside me rustled and came to life. I actually screamed. My attacker turned out to be two yellow mongooses, so wrapped up in the act of trying to shred each other, that they didn’t notice me, and continued to fight, even around my feet. It was seriously cool.

Saw Kori Bustard #67 on the upper dune road. The dune road made Cactus Scot feel quite sick. Got some lovely scenery photos, because there was quite the storm cloud over TR. By the TR dune road, the sky was spitting again.

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As we approached TR, it became apparent that it had rained here- a lot. At Samevloeiing, the Nossob riverbed almost looked in flood.

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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:00 am 
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Day 8: Twee Rivieren Campsite

We got a great campsite, both secluded and with power. The ground was very clay-ish and uneven, but we decided to put the tent up anyway. One of us would be sleeping tonight with our head significantly lower than our feet. Quietly, we both knew it wouldn’t be me- I’m a complainer, and CS isn’t. :redface:

It was freezing when we got the tent up. I opened our electricity box to plug in my battery charger (which wouldn’t fit in the box). I found a beautiful gecko lying in the bottom of the box. It was a large Bibron’s Tubercled Gecko, if we want to be specific. I thought it was dead. The electricity boxes are quite sealed, and I think he must have been trapped in there for a while. When I picked him up, he didn’t move. Oh gosh, not good. He was alive though. But if you’ve ever tried to catch a gecko, you’ll know that if you can catch it and hold it, it’s not doing too well. He was very pink. :(

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Not being sure what to do, I boiled the kettle and filled up an empty water bottle with hot water. I put the gecko, who I named ‘Electricity Box Gecko’, back into the box with his new hot water bottle, hoping to warm him up. Also left a crack at the bottom of the box, so he could leave if he wanted.

We left Electricity Box Gecko and went to the shop to buy all kinds of goodies. Despite it being very, very cold and wet, I bought an ice cream. We also signed up for a night drive, but we were the only ones.

The afternoon was lazy, like an rainy ‘indoor recess’ day at school, but being stuck outside. We spent a little time in reception playing cards. I also ran into Mr. Erasmus (the manager), who remembered me and my Mini from December. It was good to see him again. As the day went on, we realized the night drive would probably be cancelled. I kept heading back to reception to see if anyone else had signed up (plus, it was nice to be in reception where it was warm and not raining). We even tried a spot of recruiting around the campsite. Friends of ours from Nossob just laughed at us. ‘A night drive? In this? Not a chance!’.

Back at reception at 4, and we were faced with a dilemma. It was raining, but the guide was willing to take us out. We’d obviously have to pay double. It was a hard decision. A night drive at the ‘P Park’ near Sun City that CS and I frequent (and love very much :redface: ) costs more than double a KTP drive, so even paying double wasn’t bad value, and we’d have the guide (John again- he gets around!), to ourselves.

We decided in the end to not go, and try for tomorrow. The weather might be better and more people might sign up. It really was miserable weather- heavy rain, wind and COLD. We probably wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves and we might not have had good sightings. We decided to book ourselves into the restaurant instead.

Back at the tent, we re-filled Electricy Box Gecko’s hot-water bottle and headed out into the park at 5.

Not having much time, we just ventured a few kilometers into the dune road before heading back. Not a single sighting. No wildebeest, no springboks, no nothing. Maybe it was best that we hadn’t done the night drive. The weather was just getting stormier.

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We got a heck of a rainbow though. A double one that went in a complete arc. It was impossible to get the whole thing into a photo. CS took a beautiful video of it, which is ruined by me saying, ‘why do you have a red flashy light on you camera?. I didn’t know she was taking a video. :wall:

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Back at camp at 6. and we had a surprise visitor! :dance: :dance: As we pulled in beside our tent, a truck pulled in beside us. It was Matthys! It was lovely to catch up and share stories.

Electricity Box Gecko was doing well, and was clung to the wall wedged against his hot water bottle. Definitely more lively and looking considerably more brown. I decided I should re-locate him to the bathroom. It was warmer and drier in there. He could hide up in the roof and meet up with some buddies. A cold, wet electricity box was no place for Electricity Box Gecko.

I carried him over to the bathroom, but upon his release I was horrified to learn that he seemed to totally lack the ability to climb the walls. He kept trying and falling down, and falling into the sink and onto the floor. This was not going to work. So it was back to the electricity box.

CS offered to donate her spare hot water bottle to his cause, and we decided we’d give him a warm fluffy hot water bottle for the night. It would stay warm for much longer than a plastic drinks bottle.

At reception, someone had removed our honey badger sightings from the board. Only our honey badger sighting was gone, whoever took it down left all the others up. Grrrr… we put it back on. :sniper:

Our dinner reservations were at 6:30 and we headed for the restaurant. Having dined there in October I wasn’t a huge fan. I found the food to be very uninspiring, but tonight it was just lovely. CS had a yummy ostrich steak and I had chicken, with some awesome butternut. I take back mean thoughts I’ve had in the past about the Lion’s Den. They do the best they can do with what they have. :clap:

Got back to camp to find Electricity Box Gecko was gone! At least he had warmed up enough to move to somewhere more natural, if less warm. It’s probably good for him too, as CS had been debating (a little too seriously) whether she could take him back to Joburg. Of course I wouldn’t have let that happen. It would be unthinkable to remove any animals from the wild, and besides, Electricity Box Gecko would have been living with ME, in Cape Town.

And so ends the tale of Electricity Box Gecko.


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:27 am 
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Day 9: AM Twee Rivieren

I didn’t sleep well. The tent was on too much of a hill and I kept on rolling into the walls or accidentally kicking CS in the head. I was out of the tent at 7 and snuck over for a hot shower. TR has HOT showers, unlike the ones at Nossob, which only just get warm enough. It was rainy this morning, but deliciously warm. Binky was reading 14, and so I was in my shorts and t-shirt, ready for my last full day in KTP. I’m not sure whether it was actually that warm, but I suspect I had quite the vicious fever that morning, and I was nice and toasty. :dance:

Anyway, the drive out was uneventful. I decided we should see as much KTP as possible today and we would cross the lower dune road this morning, and head north along the Nossob. It was raining a lot.

At Munro, we saw what I thought were lions…. Cheetahs! (Yeah, I’m having my eyes tested again soon :rtm: ). They were obviously the same four from Day 1 that we spotted at TR. One was collared (who I assumed to be ‘mom’), and following her every move were her three very big babies. Watched them as they climbed up into the dunes. It wasn’t the last we’d see of them…

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We took the lower dune road to Kij Kij. ‘There’s always lions at Kij Kij’, I kept telling Cactus Scot, very matter-of-factly. The rain got heavier. There was nothing at Kij Kij, or anywhere else for that matter. Along the Nossob road, the roads were beginning to flood and I was getting nervous, but staying far too optimistic. I kept saying things like, ‘There will definitely be a lion over this hill, I know it’, and ‘ :huh: I don’t understand this, cats love to be wet’.

We drove north as far as Jan se Draai, and then headed back the way we came. We stopped at Aucterlonie for a wander around in the rain. It was wet. Then, we came across a roadblock at Munro- the cheetahs! So cute, and a little closer to the road this time. We drove on after watching them play and sniff at trees for half an hour. It wasn’t the last we’d see of them…

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Then we hit the TR dune road. I have strong feelings about this road. I agree that there can be awesome sightings here. I’ve seen Cape Fox, Jackals and Bat-Eared Foxes, as well as tons of super-neat birds. But the road goes on… and on… and on… and on… forever. Every time I drive it, I’m reminded of this fantastic computer game I had in about 1991, called ‘King’s Quest 5’. There was one point in the game when ‘King Graham of Daventry’ (the game creators were obviously American and had clearly never been to Daventry :slap: , where I lived for a short time), had to find his way across some sand dunes. He’d cross one, just to find another, and another, and another. It would be super-exciting to cross a dune and find an old boot, or a skeleton on the next dune. The dunes would keep coming and eventually King Graham of Daventry would simply die of thirst (or possibly boredom). That’s how I feel about the TR dune road. :redface: I'm sorry, but it's true.

Today though, the dune road had a little treat waiting for us :dance: . Not an old boot, or a skeleton, but some baby Gemsbok! They were very nearly the cutest little things I’ve ever seen. The sighting brought much joy. They looked like tiny cows. We sat and watched them for a while. I’m not good at finding the right time to say things, so I told Cactus Scot that in the KTP, Spotted Hyenas prey primarily on Gemsbok calves. And maybe these ones would be eaten tonight? I know, I need to work on my conversation skills… :doh: :doh: :doh:

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We saw Kori Bustard #69 on the TR dune road.

Back at camp, it had cleared a little. I bought a pie. We watched a crazed Ground Squirrel run around our feet. This guy had eaten something he should not have eaten, and appeared to be on a massive sugar high as he tried every trick in the Ground Squirrel’s Book of Begging, to get our food. We also had some Yellow Mongoose visitors to our lunch, as well as some White Browed Sparrow Weavers. I really, really don’t want to go home tomorrow. I kept opening the electricity box hoping to find Electricity Box Gecko had come home :pray: . He hadn’t.

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I asked Cactus Scot what she wanted to contribute to this trip report. She wanted to comment on how Nossob showers were far superior to the ones at TR, because the ones in TR didn’t have benches and all your clothes got wet on the floor. I told her that the showers in TR did indeed have benches, and she’d been unknowingly using the only one without a bench, each time she had a shower at TR :wall: . I walked her over to the ablutions block to prove it. She got mad and reminded me that she is self-sacrificing by sleeping with her head at the bottom of a slope.


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:01 pm 
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I don't want to end my trip report! So i'm going to drag out the next few installments. Hopefully, by the time i'm finished, i'll be off to Addo again, and will have something new to write. Anyway...

Day 9: PM

I think I forgot to mention that we had found out yesterday that John was going back to Nossob and there would be no night drives tonight. I was quite disappointed that there was just one ranger covering night drives over the whole of KTP on this trip :wall: . I’ve spent so many nights now at Twee Rivieren, and I’ve never once been able to go on a night drive. It just means I have to go back soon, and I will.

So we left camp at 4, and headed out towards Aucterlonie to look for leopards. We decided we would just go as far as Munro, but for some reason, I kept pressing on and with my ultra-slow driving, time was pressing on as well. I really wanted to see this leopard!

The drive hadn’t turned up anything, and I decided to go around just one more corner. How lucky did that turn out to be! For surely enough, around the next corner, we came across a roadblock of 12 cars- very big for KTP. And it was….

….The cheetahs! Again! :dance: This time, ‘Mom’ was stalking a springbok about 200m down the riverbed. The other 3 didn’t seem to care all that much. It was funny that the cars had gathered not beside the cheetahs, but beside the poor springbok. The Cheetah Project vehicle was among the cars gathered watching the springbok. The springbok kept giving us all looks that seemed to say, ‘what’s going on here?’ :huh: . Cactus Scot wondered whether the springbok had begun to make the association that every time it saw the green Cheetah Project vehicle, something tried to eat it.

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How must the lonely springbok feel, with a huge audience gathered solely for its death. It was cruel, harsh and a little vulgar. People can be so sick :evil: . So I quickly joined the group of cars, nabbing the space closest to the springbok and farthest from the stalking cheetah who we could barely see this far away. This was going to be awesome and we had front row seats! :popcorn: We’d be able to smell the blood! :dance: :dance: :dance:

The cheetah sighting turned out to be a ‘Wall of Shame’ goldmine. :cam: Earlier on the trip, CS had seen the ‘Wall of Shame’ in Nossob, and thought it was fantastic. One guy was watching the sighting, perched on his window. Another had actually got out of his car to take photos, and we just snapped him as he got back in. They say lions are fast, try cheetahs.

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Mom didn’t want to be fast though and was taking her time. A lot of time. The springbok knew she was there, but continued to nibble nervously at the grass. The tension was incredible. We’d been watching the drama for a while when I looked at the clock and panicked. It was now well after 5, and by my calculations, we were more than 30kms out. The gates closed at 6 and I don’t speed in the park. It wasn’t looking good. None of the other cars budged. It seemed no one was going to miss such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But I was :( . I stayed for five minutes more, hoping Mom would make her move, but she didn’t. She was so close to the springbok now. Staying would mean witnessing the coolest spectacle nature has to offer, but it would also mean speeding in the park and arriving to a locked gate at TR. I couldn’t bear the shame of having someone come and unlock the gate just to let me in, and I pulled away. The other cars gave me looks that said, ‘are you CRAZY?’ :big_eyes: . I recognized the look because it was the same look I’d given people who drove away from unbelievable sightings.

I was so sad as I drove back. I wished I had stayed to watch the chase, even if it meant a fine, but it was too late to go back now.

On the dune road, I was driving at the absolute limit- 50, and was horrified when a giant ProTours bus overtook me very fast, close to some baby gemsboks. It must have been doing about 70 or 80, because it disappeared so quickly, leaving a massive cloud of dust. I was pretty angry. It never slowed :sniper: . I’ve never seen a big luxury bus in the park before.

What kind of experience must a tourist have on one of these buses in the KTP? Being on a crammed day trip from Upington, riding 20 feet above the road, cocooned in velour, windows closed, being blasted by ice-cold air-conditioning, while drinking imported bottled ice water and wearing slippers, while smearing a mini tub of cheese over an individually wrapped cracker with a plastic knife, with some awful American comedy film playing on screens attached to the ceiling. Every time there’s a sighting, those who actually care and aren’t just in the KTP because it’s ‘part of the package’, must have to jump up and rush to the other side of the bus, pushing strangers out of the way to try to take aerial photographs through an impossibly tinted window. I’m sorry, but this is not how God intended us to experience His Kalahari. :wall:

Anyway, we couldn’t speed by the gemsboks, and stopped to take a few photos. They had been scared by the bus and had moved far from the road, but they were lovely to see. Near the gates we stopped for an awesome Namaqua Sand Grouse.

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We made it back to the gates with about 3 minutes to spare, knowing there were at least 12 cars still in the park behind us (and at least one ProTours bus in front of us). As we handed in our permit at reception, the cheetah roadblock was trickling in as well. I was afraid to ask (so I made CS do it), and we found that no one saw anything at the cheetah sighting. After we had left, everyone else followed. I felt better about having to leave :) .

In the shop, I watched an American couple holding a map they had picked up. The wife turned to the husband and asked, ‘Is this Zambia now? Are we in Zambia yet?’. Her husband responded, ‘No, I think this is still Botswana or maybe still South Africa’. ‘That’s impossible’, she replied. The husband asked the lady behind the shop counter if this was South Africa or not. She didn’t say anything. :lol:

Back at camp, Cactus Scot and I had saved our tin of Woolworths Butternut Soup especially for this, our last night. We then realized that we had no way of heating it up (I do NOT cook while camping), and had to make a plan. Eventually, we figured out we could heat our soup by pouring it into a ziplock bag and dangling it inside our boiling kettle. It was messy, but we ended up with slightly warm soup. This is CS holding our soup. I have very detailed videos too, but I’ll spare you.

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Witnessing our ridiculous soup project, our Nossob friends came over and offered us some actual soup and Milo. We couldn’t turn them down. We stayed with them at their camp until 10, eating soup and listening to conversation. They even had portable heaters to heat the air around their campsite. Wow. These guys were in their 60’s but I’d never met anyone so adventurous! We exchanged contact details and they invited me to come on one of their frequent hiking trips in the Drakensburg. If I can, I definitely will. :thumbs_up:

At their fire, I finally got to roast the marshmallows I hadn’t been able to roast for the last 10 days, due to lack of fire. At the other camps, CS never let me buy firewood, saying that a fire needed more than wood to keep it going, and I’d just be disappointed. I didn’t know what she meant.

It was our last night in the KTP. :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:15 pm 
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Gosh, i'm so sad that this report is coming to an end. It's like leaving the KTP all over again. So do forgive me, but i'm really going to drag this one out...

Day 10: AM

We (well, I) decided to go into the park at gates open time, and worry about packing up when we got back, sometime later in the morning. Cactus Scot’s flight wasn’t leaving Cape Town for 23 hours yet, so there was no rush back. I figured we could stay in the park until after lunch, and then head back to the city in the afternoon. It's still weird that we would be driving to Cape Town, so that CS could catch a flight to Joburg, considering we were already half-way to Joburg...

Anyway, It was very overcast this morning, which was a little sad. Maybe it made it easier to say goodbye though. On my last trip, the last morning brought a glorious sunrise which made leaving nearly impossible :wall: . At Munro, we had an excellent sighting. Leopard tracks! No leopard, but we got all excited. Surely it was a sign that this would be a great morning. :thumbs_up:

Further down the road, we caught up to the Cheetah Project truck :dance: . Score! We were going to see cheetahs this morning! All we’d have to do was follow the truck and their radio- tracking equipment, right to our next sighting... But it wasn't to be that easy :( . A few kilometres later, my heart sank as the Cheetah truck turned left up a no-entry road and disappeared over a dune. No! For the first time on a drive from Twee Rivieren, we weren’t going to see the cheetahs. The Cheetah truck obviously knew where they were, and they weren’t where we could see them. Grrrr :wall: :wall: . We decided to say one last farewell to Aucterlonie and continued down the road.

CS and I were scanning the Auob riverbed intently. I was driving at my usual 10km/hr when something caught Cactus Scot’s eye. We stopped. The car that had been taling us for the last few minutes (very annoying :sniper: ) stopped as well. There was definitely movement on the dune. The car behind us didn’t see what we were looking at and sped off at great speed, leaving us in a cloud of dust, looking at this sight:

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Can you tell what it is yet?


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:07 pm 
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Cheetahs! Of course, was it going to be anything else? 8)

They made their way into the open riverbed, and like yesterday, they moved from tree to tree, sniffing them intently and scratching at the bark. They were so cute and they were OURS! :dance: We had the sighting all to ourselves for at least 15 minutes, after which time we were joined by the Cheetah Project truck.

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The cheetahs eventually lost interest in the trees and set their sights on a group of springbok further down the riverbed. The Cheetah Project truck drove a few hundred meters down the road, aligning themselves with the poor little springboks. We stayed with the cheetahs (I was feeling less morbid today), and I love this photo that Cactus Scot snapped of the four of them, eyeing up their lunch. :cam:

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We watched them for a long time, creeping ever closer to the springboks. But then, for no reason, they lost interest and made their way up and over the dune. I drove over to the Cheetah Project truck, full of questions…

It’s here I met the legendary Gus Mills :D . He told me that this group of four was not a mother and three cubs, but were in fact a ‘sib-group’- two sisters and two brothers (it was a girl who was collared) who had recently left their mom, but wanted to stick together as a group for a while. This melted my heart. I had no idea that cheetahs did that. I loved them even more. And now here I am- it’s my job to tell dozens of visitors to Cheetah Outreach each day, that cheetahs will often stay together in very cute little ‘sib-groups’ :dance: . (The girls will eventually leave, but the boys have a strong chance of staying together for life).

Gus explained that this group was so interested in the trees, because an adult male had been through this area yesterday and had scent-marked all the trees in the area.

I had to ask Gus about Skinny, because he would know the truth. He beamed. Little Anton was doing great, and stays between Mata Mata and Craig Lockhart. (Unfortunately, that was two months ago now, and the latest news isn’t so good… :cry: ). He told me about Elena’s four new cubs, and that they were doing well.

Anyway, I would have loved to chat for longer, but chatting in KTP means blocking the road in both directions, and our cheetah sighting had attracted quite the crowd by now, who were all eager to move on, because the cheetahs were long gone.

We drove off and headed out towards Aucterlonie for the last time…

(I told you I was going to drag this out! :wink: )


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:19 pm 
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Eeek! Just got word that this is about to be locked... i'm not done yet!

So here's the conclusion- in a hurry!

So we drove back to TR from Aucterlonie. Along the dune road, Cactus Scot and I had a long conversation about whether KTP's animals could go on some sort of exchange program. We figured they could be sent to Arizona, USA. The climate is quite similar, so you could put a big fence around the whole state and kick the people out, and see how the animals of KTP fare against their american counterparts. Shall put it to SANParks. Concerns we had, incluse what would happen if an bear met a lion. What would happen?

Because it's an exchange, Arizona's animals would be brought to KTP. American porcupines vs. giant African ones... ground hogs and ground squirrels. Interesting times...

Safe to say, we were a little tired and depressed about leaving KTP.

We weren't satisfied with the number of Kori Bustards we had seen. 80 seemed like a 'fake' number. If we had seen 81 or 82, it would have been okay. But to say we saw exactly 80 didn't seem right. We tried and tried, but at 80, our number stayed.

Looking for Kori Bustards as we were, we missed the gorgeous BEF standing right beside the road, giving us one of the most amaing photo oppretunities of the trip. Of course the camera wasn't quick enough, and I have a very blurry, but close up photo of a BEF walking away into the dunes.

Back at TR, we packed up our campsite. I couldn't beleive we were leaving. We decide we needed one last drive into the park to try and find one more Kori Bustard. We failed. We saw 80. Ugh... such a silly number...

Finally left at about 2pm and set off for Cape Town. We almost took a detour to Augrabies, but we realized it was just too late in the day. Then it was on the R27 that it all went wrong. KTP obviously didn't want us to leave...

Several thousand rands in car repair bills later (I STILL have a hole in my hood), and Froggie the Honda Jazz is preparing to take on KTP once again.

With one not-started Addo trip report to start, i'll be in the KTP again in less than three weeks!!


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