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 Post subject: Fosco is back in SA - TR of 11 days KTP in Aug09
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:35 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
Some people think I am a bit crazy, travelling for the third time in just a year to SA. But I am sure most people on this forum will understand that if you love nature, wildlife, self-drive, photography and outdoor, that there is always a good excuse to visit one of the parks.

In 2006 my SO and I visited KTP for the first time. Unfortunately we only had a few days then, which was way too short and we always wanted to go back one day. This year it finally happened unexpectedly, as one evening late June we were looking at the internet for a holiday destination and we decided, let's go to KTP. Initially we wanted to rent a 4X4 with rooftop tent, but as we were late with bookings and we read on this forum about the sub-zero temperatures, we decided to try the chalet/wilderness camps.

Our wish list for this trip included of course close-ups with the famous big lions, the cheetah with cubs at MM, brown hyena, surricats, wild cat and leopard. We also love birds and other animals, but it is always good to have a wish list, as it motivates to get-up on a cold and early morning.

So on July 31st in early morning we landed in J'burg for our connection to Upington. We had decided to stay the first night in Upington, so we had plenty of time to do shopping and to recover from the overnight flight. After a very bad pizza from the local pizzeria, but a good night sleep in a lovely B&B at the river, we drove the next morning towards Twee Rivieren. We had plenty of time, so could enjoy the view of the social weavers nesting in the poles next to the road.
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Around noon we arrived at the new entrance gate and we were pleasantly surprised with the road to the camp and the new entrance. Both were much better than three years ago. We checked in and enjoyed being back in KTP and just sitting at our patio and watching the ground squirrels play.
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Around 15:30 we took off for the first game drive. The road to Nossob was still closed, so we drove towards Monrose waterhole. I always love the first day, as all animals are "new" again, and great to take pictures. We stopped and enjoyed all the usual suspects like springbok, gemsboks, wildebeast, bat-eared fox, jackals and Kori Bustard.
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On our way back from Monrose we saw our 1st kill. No lions or other big cats, but a Lanner Falcon eating another bird and then getting attacked by a hungry younger falcon. Great to watch and a good start of our trip.

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We made a quick dinner and went to bed early. Still need to get used to the cold. Great first day, nothing yet seen from our wishlist, but 10 more days to go, so plenty of things to come. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Fosco is back in SA - TR of 11 days KTP in Aug09
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:52 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
expat wrote:
Page turned!


And so it is.... time for a new day and a new story

Day 2: Twee Rivieren

The gate opens late in winter, so we only needed to get up at 6:30 to be ready to drive through the gate at 7am. It was very cold and we needed all the clothes and jackets to stay warm in the car. The car reading showed a minus 2.

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We started out towards Samevloeing, but nothing special there. Then we continued on the road towards MM, as there were reports of Cheetah around Montrose. But like often in winter the river bed was empty and the animals were still inactive due to the cold. But no worries, there are always birds to enjoy and they make good pictures in early morning light. We watched for half an hour how a Rock Kestrel was trying to invade a social weaver nest and later we saw a Greater Kestrel warming-up in the sun.
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We needed something warm as well, so we had coffee and tea at Auchterlonie. It was till too cold and too early to stay outside long, so we decided to postpone breakfast and drive further on the dune road. We stopped again at Kij Gamies and had our breakfast in the car. Besides enjoying the Kalahari landscape there was not much special to see, so we decided to drive back slowly to TR. On the way back we could clearly notice that the animals had become more active as we saw large groups of gemsbok and springbok. Just south of Montrose things became more interesting. We saw something black scuffling up the dunes and when we looked closer it was a honey badger - too bad he was too far away for a nice picture. A little bit further we saw the first animal from our wish list. A group of Meerkats/surricats with one of them standing in classic sentinel pose. Lovely. We remembered them from our previous trip to KTP and we were glad to see them again here.

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Just after noon we arrived back at TR for a well deserved lunch & a few hours of rest. At 4 both of us were still tired and we discussed if we should go on a drive or not. But as most of you will know, you can't sit still at camp, so we decided to take a short drive. And then, just as I reversed my car, a big tree was standing in my way which I hadn't seen and I crashed my rental car into this tree - oops. Luckily the damage was limited as the speed was still slow and we could continue our trip. In the afternoon we saw the usual things, couple of bat-eared foxes, springbok, birds and a large group of gemsbok posing for us at sunset.

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In the evening we made a healthy pasta meal and looked at our pictures of the first day. Some great shots, but none of the famous big and small cats yet. “ Where were they hiding?” was our last thought of the day.

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 Post subject: Re: Fosco is back in SA - TR of 11 days KTP in Aug09
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
All, thanks for your patience, support and comments. As said yesterday here is another chapter of my TR and to make it more interesting, you will not only get one day, but two days.....Hope you enjoy it and have enough :popcorn: to watch the whole story.

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Day 3 & 4 – Kalahari Tented Camp

Today was the day we were hoping to find cheetahs. We had read many stories on this forum on the cheetah with cubs that is often seen between MM and KTC and we were staying two nights there, so surely we must be able to find her there.
At 7am we were among the first cars to drive off, but again the early hours of the day were too cold for the animals to be active. We arrived quickly at Auchterlonie, where we stopped for a warm tea and coffee. We continued the route northwards and were impressed by the condition of the road. Many people seem to complain about the corrugation, but today the road was in a good shape, maybe the graders had just passed?
At Montrose waterhole we stopped for a while to look around for activity. In the distance we saw a few jackals playing, but I didn’t pay much attention – you see jackals everywhere and they were too far away for a good picture anyway. But my SO is always more curious, so she got her binoculars and saw that it was an African wild cat protecting her area against two jackals

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We stayed and watched the jackals trying to get to her, but eventually they gave-up and walked away. To our surprise the African wild cat then turned her attention to us and causally walked up to our car to investigate who those strange people were watching her. She literally walked straight to our car, gave us one firm look and then disappeared in the banks of the river. Woow – an absolute amazing sight. This is one of the reasons why we fell in love with KTP and will keep coming back to this beautiful place.

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We continued our journey and had a late breakfast at Kamqua. The good thing about late breakfast is that the temperature is much better and you don’t eat your breakfast in the freezing cold. We decided that we would maximize our chances and take all the loops running at 13e & 14e boorgat and Dalkeith. What a great decision this turned to be, as when we were on the loop at 13e boorgat we saw a group of 4 cars standing, with all camera’s and binoculars looking in one direction – surely a sign of a big cat sighting. And indeed, when we arrived we saw two young female lions playing with each other in the shade of a large tree.

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The guy in the car next to us, told us that for the past few days people had seen 3 lionesses here, so a good spot to return to. Unfortunately the lionesses stayed far away, so after 20 minutes or so, we decided to continue and return back the next day. At around 1 o’clock we arrived in the Kalahari Tented Camp and I was pleasantly surprised. Very friendly staff, great tents, spacious, nicely decorated and great view on the river. What a difference from staying in TR. We stayed in one of the last three tents on the right (nr 11 or 12 I think) and I must say they looked remarkably the same as the pictures on this forum elsewhere of the honeymoon suite.

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In the afternoon we drove two times up and down to MM, but no luck here, we couldn’t find the cheetah with the cubs. When we asked the guard at the camp, he also told us that he hadn’t heard or seen her for a few days, but we should keep trying……
Luckily there were many other animals to enjoy and we loved looking at bat eared foxes, who seem to be very active in this area and we enjoyed the many raptors like the kites and falcons

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Black Shouldered Kite

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Lennar Falcon?? Not sure

In the evening we had fun playing with the spotlight. On the other end of the river there was a group of blue eyes, size of foxes or jackals or maybe hyena. However we could not recognize the howling sound they were making, as clearly it was not a hyena sound. We think it must have been a group of jackals, but not sure yet.

We had a terrible night, as it was so cold at night that even with the double blankets we had difficulties falling asleep. In the morning we doubted if we would get-up, but the thought of possibly cheetah’s or again lionesses at 13e boorgat was stronger and we managed to get up and in the car. But again a similar pattern as the other mornings, very little active wildlife. Don’t know if it is the cold, or the fact that it was close to full moon, but the animals seem to be very elusive in early mornings. A flying wild cat and many doves at the otherwise very empty 13e boorgat.

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The good thing about the KTC is that you can sit at your terrace and watch the animals walk by, so most of the rest of the day we just sat and watched the gemsbok, wildebeest and ostriches walk by.
In the afternoon we tried again our “ hunt” for the cheetah, but even with driving up and down a couple of times to MM, we had no luck. Luckily there is always plenty of birds to see, so we gave-up on the cheetah and enjoyed the birds instead. Especially the very active ostriches close by were wonderful.

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Lilac brested roller

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Secretary bird crossing the road

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Ostriches chasing each other
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Close-up

The next day we would leave this area as we were booked at Nossob. Slightly disappointed by the fact that we had not found the cheetah with cub, but grateful with all the other great sightings we had in this area we fell asleep that night, knowing that we would come back to this camp again later this trip, so there was hope……. To be continued

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June 2009 KNP
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 Post subject: Re: Fosco is back in SA - TR of 11 days KTP in Aug09
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:37 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
Day 5, 6, 7 – To Nossob and back

We had tried many times to get a few nights in Nossob this trip, but each time we asked we heard that Nossob was fully booked. In the end we managed to get one night in Nossob, but to do this we needed to drive from KTC to Nossob, then to TR and then back to KTC. A lot of kilometers in two days, but also a good opportunity to see lots of animals, so we decided to give it a try.

Early morning we got-up and had a last try of finding the MM cheetahs, but no luck again for us. So we drove quickly towards 13e boorgat, maybe we would see the lionesses again. But all the animals had a lazy day today, as we saw very few animals around. Our luck started to change, just before Urikaruus, as we saw a group of giraffes. I am always amazed to see giraffes in KTP, as I think they look so special in a desert.

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After a cold, but healthy breakfast (yoghurt, muesli and fruit) at Kamqua, we took the upper dune road towards Nossob. Near the end of this road, we came upon a group of Red Hartebeest. We had not seen these before in KTP, so we were very pleased to see them. From here you also have a very nice view over the dry Nossob river, which gives a good impression of the park.

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Between Dikbaardskolk and Nossob it was again very quiet, so we arrived reasonable early at Nossob at around 14:00 hr. Here we found out the real reason, why it had been so difficult to book multiple nights at Nossob. They were renovating the chalets, so most of the chalets were closed at this time of the year.

At Nossob we heard that people had seen cheetah cubs at Kwang, so on our afternoon drive we headed North. It was a beautiful road, but how good we looked, we did not see any cheetah here. But we enjoyed looking at other animals, like a drinking wildebeest. In the evening we drank in our tea in the nice hide at Nossob, waiting for the famous Nossob lions to show-up. However our tea ran out and we got sleepy, so we decided to go to bed, a little bit disappointed as we knew we had to leave tomorrow and had expected more from Nossob.

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But luckily the next morning things changed rapidly. We left Nossob just after 7am, and within 100 metres we saw a large group of lions (~10) sleeping under a tree. We hoped they would become a bit active, but besides one male lion standing-up, walking two feet and lying down again, nothing spectacular happened, sow e decided to continue, as we had a long drive in front of us. The road between Nossob and TR is still closed, so we had to drive via the lower dune road to TR.

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Just before the Melkvlei P, a car waved us down and three guys very enthusiastically told us that there were lions sleeping against the dunes. We looked, looked and looked again and indeed if you know were to look, you could see three lions lying under a tree. However even with our 300mm zoom lens we could not get a decent picture.

The dune road was very empty and the combination of the empty roads, the dust, the heat and the distances made us very tired, but I know this is also part of the KTP experience and the long drives without sightings are easily forgotten again when you return home and only have the nice memories and pictures to enjoy.
On the last part of the road to TR we encountered our second raptor kill of this trip. A goshawk was battling with a salamander, but in the end the goshawk won.

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When we arrived at TR at 4pm, we decided that we had driven enough for the day, so we skipped our afternoon drive and had a lazy afternoon at the camp.

The next morning we continued the laziness and we had our breakfast at TR and only drove off at 8:30. We decided to take it easy today and have a relaxing drive back towards KTC. On the road we again enjoyed sightings of the many birds and in particular the mouse birds, the giant eagle owl and the bee-eaters. All of those we had on our bird-to-see-list, so we felt very lucky.

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The warden at the KTC told us that people had seen the cheetah again yesterday between KTC and MM, so in the afternoon we drove again that road a few times, but she had decided to be somewhere else again….. But the springbokken, gemsbokken, ostriches and wildebeest around KTC are also good subjects for nice pictures, so we changed our focus and enjoyed the rest of the animals.

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Halfway our trip…..... :? will we ever find the cheetah, will we see lions close-up and active, will we see more raptor kills, more AWC or maybe a leopard.......keep watching….....

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 Post subject: Re: Fosco is back in SA - TR of 11 days KTP in Aug09
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:32 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
Day 8,9 – Kalahari Tented Camp part 2

I am back with another episode – thanks for waiting. I am sure it is worth it. :D

We were still tired from the long trips and it was still very cold, so we decided to relax and stay a bit longer in bed and sleep half an hour extra. The plan was to quickly look for the cheetah (bout of course she wasn’t there) and then drive towards 13e & 14e boorgat. At first we didn’t saw anything special, but when we turned on to the loop at 14e boorgat we saw suddenly a huge male lion walking in front of us. We were really surprised, as it seemed like the lion came out of nowhere. We followed the lion as he walked towards the borehole and there we saw the rest of his family, 2 small cubs and 2 female lions. We were the first cat there and had a really good view, but after 10 mins or so another car and a very annoying overlander bus joined the crowd. The bus driver wanted to make sure that his guests got a good view, so he parked his bus in front of the cars ..grrrrr :sniper:
Luckily the lions were very active and walked back and forward, so we quickly made sure we got our view back. After half an hour or so, the male decided it was time to go, so the family got-up and walked slowly towards the dunes. We followed the family for a long while, until they disappeared on top of the dune.

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This was a truly amazing sighting and we decided to drive back to the camp and enjoy & relax for the day. We enjoyed just sitting at our veranda and look out over the river and view the gemsbokken & wildebeesten wander along the river bed.

At 4 pm we decided it was time to give the cheetah another try, so we made the plan to drive up and down to MM and see if we were lucky this time. Just when we turned left from the camp, we saw something moving in the dunes. We stopped, looked and tried to see what it was. Brown, not too big, a bit doglike, is it.., could it.., yes it was a brown hyena! We were really excited, as we had never seen a brown hyena before in our trips and this was one of the animals we had on our wishlist for KTP. The hyena was very shy and walked off quickly, so we drove towards MM. Close to MM we came across a large family of surricats, who were playing in the field. We parked the car and waited for a while, so the surricats could come closer to the car (and our camera). This worked and we could make a lot of wonderful pictures. :cam:

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When we drove back to the tented camp, we joked that it would be nice to see the brown hyena again, as we did not have a clear picture yet. And to our surprise and there she was again. With dim light as it was getting dark, we managed to take one picture – not the best shot, but clear enough. This was by far the best day in the park and we are now really in love with the KTC – what a special place this is.

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The next morning we got-up on time, to make sure we were again early at 14e boorgat, to give the lions another shot. However like good wild animals, they were no longer around. So we continued our trip down south. Today we were moving to Kieliekrankie, another one of the wilderness camps. Just passed 13e boorgat another car waved us down. We stopped and they said, if you look very careful at the tree over there, you’ll see a wild cat. We looked at the tree, looked again and again, but we couldn’t find the cat. Just when we were about to give-up, two ears popped out behind a branch and seconds later we had this beautiful cat posing for us.

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Around Urikarus we saw again the group of giraffes, luckily they were now closer to the road, so we could make the classic giraffe head shot.

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Around noon we arrived at Kieliekrankie and we love this place. Only 4 bungalows and all of them overlooking a waterhole and with great views over the dunes. Places like this make a trip in KTP so special.

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The afternoon we just spend sitting at the terrace and looking at the waterhole and enjoying the many birds you find here. We did a short afternoon drive, but were more enjoying the wonderful change of colours that you get in the dunes when the sun sets.

According to the stories in the guest book, people sometimes see leopards here at night or early morning. So we decided to keep our windows open at night and the spot light ready, so we could jump out of bed, as soon as we heard some noise from the waterhole…… I’ll tell you in the next episode what happened that night…….

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 Post subject: Re: Fosco is back in SA - TR of 11 days KTP in Aug09
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:29 pm 
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Location: Gabon
Day 10,11 – Kieliekrankie – last episode

In the middle of the night I woke-up and I walked up to the terrace to view the waterhole – empty……In early morning my SO did the same and she saw an AWC – she seems to be always more lucky.

Just after 7 we were in our car driving towards Kij-kij. We were not expecting a lot in the dunes, so the plan was to drive to the Nossob river and look for something special there. But to our big surprise we were greeted by 4 lions at Kij-Gamies waterhole. The large male & his wife were not that active, but the two young male lions were very play-full and curious. Each time when we made a move, they walked towards the car and started inspecting & licking the car as if they had never seen a car before. I must say it is a scary sight to have a lion standing less than 30 cm from you. The good thing of sleeping in a wilderness camp is that there are only a few other guests and we were especially lucky today, as we were the only car driving in this direction. So for over an hour we were alone with these four lions and we had all the time to observe them and take some pictures. Absolutely fantastic and again a reminder of how special this park is.

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When another car finally showed-up, we decided that it was time to move on, so we continued our trip towards the Nossob river, where we enjoyed our breakfast at Kij-Kij enjoying the birds at the P-spot. In the river it was quiet, so we decided to go back and enjoy the rest of the day from our terrace. Again lots of birds around the waterhole, a jackal and two steenbokkies.
In the afternoon we drove back to Kij-Gamies, but we could only find the sleeping male lion. The other three seemed to have gone into the dunes. We waited as long as possible, but they did not return anymore, so we enjoyed the great sunsets in the dunes and drove back to KK.

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Bird on the terrace

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View from KK

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Our neighbor

After another quiet night at the waterhole, we started our last day in the park. We decided to enjoy KK a bit longer, so we had breakfast on the terrace and enjoyed the red and yellow colors of the dunes. We hoped to close our trip with a cheetah sighting, as people had seen them recently between KK & TR. But all we saw today was the usual, ostriches, gemsbokken and a group of sleeping lions at Houmoed. Both in the morning drive as in the afternoon.

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We slept our last night in TR, enjoyed a meal in the restaurant and left the next morning to Upington, from where we would fly to PE for a couple of days in Tsitsikamma & Addo’s before flying back home.

We left with mixed feelings. We had not seen everything from our wishlist, but we were very pleased with all the great sightings. Especially the lion close-ups, the AWC’s and the brown hyena will be remembered and we could have stayed much longer here. But on the other hand after 11 days in the park, we also looked forward to a bit of civilization, restaurants, shops and bars for example :lol:
One thing we know for sure - KTP is truly an amazing place and there are so many more places to visit and many more pictures to take, so we are certainly coming back.

== The End ==

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