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 Post subject: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:03 am 
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Greetings from snowy/chilly Canada!

In the words of today’s youth, I’ve been ‘creeping’ on the San Parks website since last month. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the photos, trip accounts and information. It brought back lots of memories from a trip there in 2008, and I thought I would share.

We were 4 Canucks let loose on KTP; 2 of us had experience (Lady Canuck and SO) and 2 of us were KTP virgins (me and SO); all of us have Biology backgrounds or keen interests and an enjoyment of photography.
Naturally we went in winter SA time, since our bodies seem to only function when it is cold. There were some frosty mornings, but it was wonderful during the day. I don’t think we saw a cloud the entire 2 weeks we were there.

This is my test photo to see if this actually works (thanks to Lady Canuck’s SO’s effort)…
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First critters we enjoyed were the comical mongeese, both yellow and red, who frolicked at the TR campground.
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We had to be the slowest vehicle around, trying to investigate all clues- footprints/scat etc, like some Mantracker episode (TV show where 2 ‘Pretend prey’ people try to elude a ‘Pretend’ Hunter and get to a secret destination before the Hunter finds them). We watched some comical mice running amongst branches of bushes, and eyeballed some bright yellow wild canaries. Suddenly we became aware that we were not alone…we were being watched by a Caracal. Not a bad start to our visit! Cool black tipped tufted ears. We were all so stunned by this, that no one had sharp enough reflexes to take a photo, until the Caracal bolted for some cover and all we captured was its backside…brilliant. Well we would improve on this.

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:43 pm 
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Thank you so much for the lovely comments.
Our first stay was in the dune area at Kieliekrankie. Each of the SanParks camps are unique in their set up and we certainly enjoyed this setting.
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We laughed at the boisterous Male Korhaans as they squawked and bolted upright into the air. I am assuming this display was attempting to infatuate a female. Not an attractive call by any means, rather like fingernails on a chalkboard, but lovely feathers.
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We saw quite a few cars cruising through the dune areas, not really taking the time to examine those subtle nuances you can find if you meander. I think many years of living on the prairies have reinforced this appreciation for us.
We loved the deep red sand with the wind ripples and animal footprints.
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Steenboks seemed to enjoy the dune areas. They were such adorable fleeting little creatures on the move. We found them very attractive with their large eyes and ears on such tiny bodies.
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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:16 pm 
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Day 2
Yesterday we had the good fortune to catch a fleeting glimpse of a Caracal. How could today be any better?
We drove from KK down to the Nossob River Valley, and went back in search of the Caracal, but didn’t succeed.

Saw lots of ostrich…including this lovely male strutting in front of a female.
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Watched a pygmy falcon eyeball some weaver nests.
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Then we drove towards Melkvlei and saw a truck parked at the picnic site. Two people were excitedly pointing to the hillside.
What? It was just brown…until you really focused and realized there was a lioness. She was so well camouflaged, and some of us still had immature spotting abilities.
We were so excited…she was maybe 150m up the hillside. So we pulled up and started snapping photos…we were now camera trigger happy.

When the truck was turned off, much to our thrill we saw that the lioness had friends. Four lazy mops of hair momentarily popped up 50 m ahead of us in the bushes. WOW…we were soooo excited, ok, well I sure was.
One of those males seemed to be killing something, by shaking his head vigorously.
‘Someone move those bushes so we can have a better view’…we could see something’s haunches also on the ground. Wow…we are at a kill…but, why wasn’t there any blood? Hmmm…and then it all made sense…
Fairly evil way to end post#100!!

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:42 am 
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Day 2 continued...

The lion in 'kill mode' finally lifted his head…at the same time the ‘haunch’ moved…not a kill…another male lion. So there were 5 males and a female…now what was that far lion playing with?

It was something dark green…whaat??? We were so confused…what in nature is dark green and clearly made of material? Particularly skilled sociable weaver bird efforts?
Oh my goodness…that is a part of a canvas tent. Oh my Lord, please let whomever was in the tent be ok. Cameras were beginning to overheat from use!
'Kill lion' in action with another lion grooming in front of him.

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Three stately males bonding.
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Total relaxation soaking up some sun.
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They pulled the green thing; they shook it violently; and when the 'boyz' seemed to have been having tooo much fun...Ms Lioness sauntered down the hillside, flagrantly snatched the prize from the 'boyz'- no challenges given, and made off with it, leaving the 'boyz' looking rather depressed and scolded.

With time, we pieced together the fact that this little delinquent gang were placidly resting after they had 'trashed the toilet area'. The green thing? The canvas insert of the windows in the toilet building just to the north. This is a bit disturbing, since according to another recent forum post, lions seem to be still enamoured with the loo at Dikbardskolk! Could this have been their initial act of vandalism?

We assumed that the cats were attracted to the sound of running water and chose to help themselves. They sure made a mess! Each of the three windows on the women’s side was gone and only one window remained somewhat intact on the male side. The black mesh remaining sported some perfect claw marks. The top of the toilets were also removed and laying outside the building…guess the beasts were thirsty.

Well, what an experience…and it left me thinking…so what will we be sleeping in for the next two weeks…tents…what are they made of …canvas. Great…sleep is really over rated.

Can you imagine your predicament if you had been in the toilet area when these critters cooked up their plan? Messy…very messy.

Thankfully we had some nights in the gated Nossob camp next to build some confidence again. We just had to survive this night.

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:13 pm 
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Survived the night just fine at KK. Watched the black backed jackal/ pale chanting goshawk and honey badger threesome hunting at dusk, far on another dune. Nice to see cooperation in nature as well...great team work. Not that that trio is really a team, but the bird and jackal have figured out that the honey badger merrily routes around scaring up potential food, and are pleased to hang around for the scraps.

Day 3

Lovely laughing doves to greet the day…

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How can we top lion day yesterday? Not sure that was possible...or was it?
We drove west into the Auob river valley…just north of Montrose waterhole and we were amused by a weaver nest that looked like something out of Dr Zeus (kiddie book). So we drove onto the little loop near it for a closer look. We should have stayed there.

Briefly back on the road going north, and we spot a Cheetah Conservation Project truck. Both SO’s in our vehicle instantly got lens envy. The massive lens was trained on a pair of cheetah resting under a tree. Another wow.

The pair rose and walked purposefully to the water hole where we had just been. Dang, but maybe they wouldn't have come if we had been there and then we wouldn't have seen what happened next.

Such a peaceful scene- Mom and Babe having a drink.

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After a guarded drink, Mom sporting a radio-telemetry collar lead the way and babe followed a set distance behind. Mom then raised her hackles and possibly uttered something and babe did a perfect sit/stay. Mom cautiously and stealthily continued solo, hesitating briefly on occasion, with her eyes locked on something. We couldn't see anything but some trees, bushes and the steep river bank. She carried on for a good 10 minutes and then exploded with power.

Mom offers us a beautiful photo opp.

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Obedient babe watching Mom in action and waiting for instructions.

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Seems like a good place to stop for today....oops, did I do it again?

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:41 pm 
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Enjoying your report, but your "laughing doves" are in fact Cape turtle doves :wink: — laughing doves don't have the ring around the neck.

(Also, those kiddies books, beloved by generations of American children, are by Dr Seuss, a native of my state :) )


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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:10 am 
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Back to the cheetah...Mom was patiently approaching something potentially edible and babe was in sit/stay position in the middle of the riverbed. Then...there was a flurry of dust as Mom engaged high gear and suddenly lots more dust as something was being directed up the escarpment, and babe remained in its spot. Dust everywhere and then nothing….we waited…nothing.

Dust started to settle and babe began calling….looking all around, but still sitting in that spot. ‘Poor thing’, melted the two Canuck females…’it can’t find its mother…awwww’. Then there was a low guttural call from up on the escarpment and babe was off in a flash.

We saw the Conservation truck later, and it was confirmed that Mom had killed a springbok, and the two cheetah had feasted.
Don’t know how we can top these three days…gotta love this place.

Later that day we went to Nossob, and watched another cheetah kill...this time just the aftermath. We saw some tiny little blood-soaked bloated cheetah...how cute and gruesome at the same time. Such is life. However Mom conveniently stashed her kill behind a bush, so the photo opportunity was lost. How inconsiderate..ha.

Enjoyed a night drive, but the night before had been especially productive with 8 leopard kills! I would have been so happy just to see a leopard, however everyone must have been fat and happy this night. We did see a Brown Hyena cleaning up a kill, but it seemed to be satiated and camera shy.

Day 4

Awoke to wildebeest loudly snorting a greeting to the day. Great sound!

Bumped along the Nossob valley northward, enjoying the antics of bat eared foxes in search of food.

Saw a couple of snakes…now I was promised none of those...my colleagues lied or the snakes had not read the right book. I think snakes are fascinating, but they terrify me. This is especially nonsensical since I worked with eels and that wasn't an issue. If only you could hear them coming.

Arrived in Gharagab…gorgeous sunset…had a black backed jackal prance right past our deck.

Lovely light on the waterhole.

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Crimson-breasted Shrike

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Sunset on Gharagab (thanks to Lady Canuck's SO)

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Apparently a leopard and her two cubs also chose that same route past our tent about 10 minutes after we retired for the evening. Shame the ranger didn’t let us know then! We encouraged him to wake us at the slightest hint of any critter for the next night.

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:20 pm 
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Day 5

Spent a thoroughly enjoyable day just sitting and watching the world interact. Lots of birds, a few wild cats zipping in for a drink at the waterhole, some gemsbok and ostriches. Very peaceful and such a special place.

Kori bustard (Thanks to Lady Canuck's SO)...these birds were most camera shy and quick about it. We have many photos of their backsides! Oddly large bird, related to the small Korhaans. Never heard one make a sound, but hopefully didn't have the same kind of call as their junior relatives.

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Secretary bird was one of my favourites, cause it eats snakes...sorry snakes. I just loved the 'pens in the head' look. We saw a few flying as well and were amazed that something this large was capable of flight.

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Whistling rat holes in the red sand.

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Whistling rat.
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Red headed finche family having a preen.
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Day 6

On our way back to Nossob.
Lady Canuck spotted ears in the tall grass. Two lionesses were hanging out in the shade of a bush. ‘Can you come closer kitties? No’…cameras are taking photos anyway.

One lioness became interested in our direction and decided to come closer. All talking stopped and cameras were seriously clicking until…’Ok fellas, can we put up the windows now’….’really guys, don’t you think we should put up the window’…’put up the d--n windows now!’

She was so close…magnificent animal, clearly listening intently for something.

This is a touch big, so I will begin another post...this is not a tease, unless I get distracted......

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:50 pm 
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Ha patience Kamadejo...nice you are keen!

"I see ears!" Two lion ladies hanging by a shady bush were interrupted from their doze.

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This cat was a little curious. I believe it was at this point that the request to close the windows occurred. 'What do we smell like?" Supper?? (Thanks to Lady Canuck's SO)

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She was clearly interested in hearing something...perhaps a tiny request to close the open windows? Nice nails lady! Loved the groomed coat- she was a beauty.

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Such expression in her face...and a more insistant request to "Shut the D..N windows!!!" Not meaning to be insulting to the cat, but those were impressive claws and no doubt she had an equally impressive set of teeth. Gotta give her the respect she deserves. Breathtaking. She came for a good look, then turned tail and rejoined her friend. How can you not be hooked on this place??

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She was here....

Image

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:43 pm 
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Day 7

Black backed Jackals were ever present at kills trying to mooch food; in the trio with PCGs (Pale Chanting Goshawk) and honey badgers; and generally scavenging on their own. Checking out the environment at this time of year, it is a pretty tough existence.

Very dry sparse vegetation...not much can hide, and not much in the way of nutrition!

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Unlike the various antelope who regularly sat and rested, jackals always seemed on the move. Lovely colouring. Great concentration on the ground for edibles.

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African ground squirrels were so cute. Loved how they shielded themselves with their fluffed up tail from the sun’s hot rays.

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Springbok were at first admired for the lovely antelope that they are. They are so unique with their colouration, their 'DQ' horns, the graceful way they drink and their wonderful springing action when pressed to flee.


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thanks to Lady Canuck's SO
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Shame how our impression of them changed from the initial one of awe for the beast it is…to… hmmm springbok, wonder what is hanging around trying to catch and eat it!

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:35 pm 
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Day 8

An electic bunch of photos for this next episode…

PCG…Pale Chanting Goshawk…these were so plentiful, that their name was shortened to PCG. Throughout this trip I 'forced'/'encouraged'/ made my fellow truck mates to count everything we saw. I should have been an accountant…we saw 157 of them!! Not sure why I needed to know that…but there you go.

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PCG made the squirrel nervous.

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PCG also made the lizard nervous…not sure what kind, but it was very colourful.

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Some other birds we enjoyed…this pair of Bateleurs were glorious in their colouration, but also comical-they looked like an old married couple. ‘Well Gladys, should we eat that one?’


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Tawny eagle

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Another ostrich male

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Tomorrow there will be a real treat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:39 pm 
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Day 9

Leaving Nossob…on to Bitterpan

We came across a very cute pair early in the morning (p@m you will love this). I mentioned in passing about seeing honeybadgers from a great distance...thank goodness for binos. Well we then had a very intimate morning encounter with these young teeny tailed honey badgers. They were hilarious.

One was more adventurous and would climb and tear things to shreds, fairly well practiced at destruction; the other would carefully investigate every nook and cranny. We figured they were brother and sister and we sat laughing/watching/recording them by the side of the road for a good half hour. It was very early in the morning, they were barely 3m from us and no other cars seemed to have come our route.

Sister and brother investigating under tree bark, searching for breakfast.

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The ‘thorough one’ nosed this chunk of bark over, examined all parts of the side; nosed it over again and examined more; nosed it over again and examined more, continuing in this fashion with the same piece of bark for at least 5 minutes. Not sure how many sides it thought there were, but was determined that nothing edible would escape!

Examination process (thanks to Lady Canuck's SO)

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It was a frosty morning, and under the loose bark were very lethargic ‘skink’sicles. ‘Adventurous one’ reaches in and…

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Success. Note the shiney white teeth and impressive claws. No wonder the poor trees were barkless in short order. Poor little skinks etc hoping for refuge from the chilly air, were absolutely helpless at the claws of these predators.


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Is this my good side?

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Love the bark splinters on the face. 'Excuse us for interrupting your brekkie'...it wasn't aware of us for long and soon returned to annihilating more trees. Soooo cute and yet not something I'd wish to tangle with! Thank heavens for digital cameras...we had a lot of photos to chose from!

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:25 pm 
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Blue Wildebeest were always found near water holes...they weren't overly hospitable to each other. We thought they had had lots of near misses with predators, until we watched them treat each other so unkindly at water holes.

Lining up for a drink...

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The bully claiming the hole for itself...

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They did appear to tolerate springbok.

This is mine, all mine...stuck in the mud.

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Nothing like a good roll in the dust.

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Peaceful scene of springbok...anything lurking?

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Just a gemsbok, who had had a tough encounter with a porcupine...note the quill right between the eyes!

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Water is all powerful...it is life, but since there is life, there is also death. We saw lots of previously used bones near the water holes...typical scene along the drive.

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Tomorrow...the exciting drive to Bitterpan!!

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:05 pm 
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The trek into Bitterpan is a bit of a challenge, but it is well worth it. You have to traverse many dunes (I can tell you how many); some easy to climb and others which required a few attempts. Surprisingly there were not too many animals along the trek in, however they may have scattered after listening to the shrieks of laughter being emitted from our truck as we lurched up yet another incline (our SO’S are so silly-ha!).

Interesting to note the colour change in the sand…grey, being the sand which occasionally had water leaching the iron oxide out, and the rustic dune still full of iron oxide.

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This lilac breasted roller was sitting on the side of the road, as if dazed. We thought it might have been ill. It just sat there and watched us…after a good photo session it flew off…most bizarre. Gorgeous hues in the feathers.

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Another PCG and a tough dune (taken by car ahead of us going into camp thanks L). I think it took us a few attempts to get up this one. Three of us were in the back seat trying to add some weight further back in the truck.
Oh if you could only hear the laugh track that accompanied these attempts. The decibel level was impressive.

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Bitterpan- such a great and unique setting. Oh the stories we formulated from this place. I still get goosebumps thinking about them.

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Look Ethyl…new neighbours have moved in. The meerkats were just too funny and we enjoyed our time watching them.

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Wonder where we are? These cute little alert beasts were so comical with their expressive little faces.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: KTF HOOKED"S FIRST KTP TR- Is this English?
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:31 pm 
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Yes,, Lockie...meerkats are like ground squirrels at home...just not as thick!!!

Quaint greeting left outside the community kitchen at Bitterpan…forshadowing things to come?

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Mongoose stealthily hunted in the grasses out front of our tent.

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Day 10

View from the top of the tower looking towards the dead vleit. Kms and kms of Africa…where you are truly isolated…or are you.?

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Nope...there is always a curious mongoose hunting. But was that all?

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Loved the snarl on the face as it chomped....we tossed out a dried up bat carcass which we found in our tent, and they made light work of that too!!!Recycling at its finest!!

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Each night at Bitterpan we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the other campers and learning some stories from the ranger about life in the camp. While our/my head(s) were filled with stories of puff adders, and rogue lions, the ranger came scurrying back to us, with a massive light. He motioned us to follow him to the end of the walkway, and then turned on the light. The darkness was overwhelmed by the power of his light, revealing 2 lionesses far too close for my liking.

It was surreal. They were actually playing like domestic cats might. The ‘younger’ lioness ran ahead and hid behind a bush. The older cat started low calls for it as it walked ahead. The younger cat pounced out from behind the bush and the older cat jumped in fright. We all laughed…perhaps a bit more nervously on my part.

The ranger turned off the light, turned on his heels and said ‘goodnight’ and ‘they’ll be back’. What??? We stood there in disbelief and total excitement.

Well…nobody wanted to go to the loo by themselves after that, I can assure you. Each tent’s loo was across a small boardwalk from the tent. All together now.

Back in the tent…you just knew they were there…watching. It was exciting and terrifying all at once. The low calls of the female lions were stopped by one very loud male response. Every goosebump I own stood at attention.! Then anything in the area responded…you could hear jackals and hyena…incredible.

My SO had already gotten into his slender single bed, but there was no way I was sleeping on my own- I is such a wimp. So I jammed myself into his skinny bed and listened intently.

Somehow we did sleep, but awoke some time later to distinct sniffing sounds and low grunts. My Lord…yes we are in a canvas tent… we know what lions think of canvas…I had flashes of the Evil Brother Lion from the Lion King movie, disdainfully holding up a mouse and sniffing it with disgust…we were the mice.

I couldn’t wait for the light of day, for several reasons…most importantly I wanted to see the footprints. I was not disappointed…they were everywhere.

One other tent was occupied aside from the two we had…their car’s spare tire had the dune dust kindly licked off part of it, and a big swipe was taken in the sand. Ironically their spare tire cover was emblazoned with a rather large cat paw print.

As we were having breakfast the locals were spotted by the end of the vleit. The male was a very impressive specimen and clearly was a very kindly king, leaving the silly Canucks intact, except for a bit of nervous energy. As they moved off we slowly followed at a distance for a while and then the lioness held her ground. Gorgeous gal, who was also a very proud Mom…we saw 3 young cubs tucked away in under some large bushes.

Locals enjoying the morning sun after frolicking amongst the tents all night.
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The kindly king in the light of day.
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Mom eyeballing us through the bushes.
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What a great experience.!

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Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by Sebakwe at 08:45:56 Submitted by Mellory at 06:02:55 Submitted by Mellory at 05:58:54 Submitted by Trrp-trrrrrrrr at 05:50:44