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 Post subject: norms-Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter-May 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 2:38 pm 
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Location: All over the place!!
This has been a trip that has been long in the planning and now the time has come to leave for a place that I love so much - The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

A place of breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, magnificent birds and night skies that will leave you spellbound.

Image

We plan to leave Gauteng in the early hours of Thursday morning and take a leisurely drive to Olifantshoek where our first night will be spent at a farm lodge before driving onto Twee Rivieren on Friday morning.

I have never attempted a Trip Report before so I have decided to share this trip with you.

Lists have been made and checked, the packing is mostly done (yellow ribbon was first in) and most of our food has been bought.

The itinerary is as follows -

13th and 14th May - Twee Rivieren
15th and 16th May - Nossob
17th May - Grootkolk
18th and 19th May - Nossob
20th and 21st May - Mata Mata

We will be camping so hope that the night time temperatures don't fall too much.
We = My brother, Graham, a friend and myself.

Looking forward to a great time with wonderful company and special sightings!! :thumbs_up:

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


Last edited by norms on Mon May 23, 2011 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 8:14 am 
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Greetings all -

I am back home after spending 9 glorious days in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

As we drove out of the gate at Twee Rivieren and said goodbye to the park (for now) I had this sad feeling inside of me because this is a special place, a place of majestic wide open spaces and encounters that you will find nowhere else.

The Kalahari has had exceptional (and very late) rains this past summer season and the grass is so, so long that it made game viewing very challenging at times and photography very difficult as you will see in my trip report that I am about to start.

Other mites who have recently been to the Kgalagadi have also experienced the same difficulty as mentioned in their trip reports. But still it was a privilege to have been able to visit this vast wilderness and experience all that the Kgalagadi has to offer.

Sightings were good, roads were good and bad, the weather was kind to us (well almost) - A great time was had!!

This is my first attempt at doing a trip report - so please bear with me!!
I have downloaded all my photographs and must say that I am quite happy with them. I am a keen amateur who is still learning the ins and outs of photography.

For those that are interested - It is going to be my pleasure to share my Kgalagadi experience with you.

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 2:23 pm 
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Day 1 & 2

This trip to the Kgalagadi was planned many, many months ago and the bookings were done 11 months in advance. Just as well because the park was full.

We left a very cold Krugersdorp at 03H00 on the first leg of the trip to KTP.

A leisurely drive was planned with an overnight stop at a farm lodge just 35km before Upington. We encountered 13 stop and go's on the N14 but luckily the waiting times were short.

I have driven the Van Zyl's Rust road before and had to do some panel beating and respraying of the trailer from stones that were thrown up so decided to take the N14 to Upington and then onto KTP.

What a pleasure it was breaking the long journey here - In the red sand dunes on the banks of the Orange river. Chalets were spotlessly clean and well appointed ( pm me if you need the name)
It was here that I ticked the first lifer of this trip - The Orange River White Eye!! :dance:

After an early start the next morning and some last minute shopping in Upington we were finally on our way to the park.

The road between Upington and the park really gets me in the right mood for what lies ahead.

This magnificent Martial Eagle was perched on the nest of Sociable Weavers but as we slowed down it flew off - :wall:

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Stopped over at Molopo Lodge to buy some wood and soon after this sign greeted us - We had arrived!!

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Check-in at Twee Rivieren was friendly and efficient and as we were camping were told to choose any site that was vacant. I asked for Jannie (KG) but he was out on a trail and returning later in the day. I left a note for him to come over and say hi and enjoy a cold one!!

As we started setting up camp the skies started to darken and the Kalahari welcomed us with strong winds. Luckily one tent was up already as the rain came pouring down as well. Was this the weather that we were going to have for the next 9 days?

We all sat in the tent until the wind died down and the rain stopped - by now it was late afternoon and time for a quick drive into the park ....................

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


Last edited by norms on Thu May 26, 2011 11:38 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 5:16 pm 
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Location: All over the place!!
Day 2 cont.

.......... after finally setting up camp and deflating tyres we ventured out into the park for a late afternoon drive. Gates close at 18H00 and it was already 16H00.

As the lower section of the road between Twee Rivieren and Kij Kij is still closed to traffic, we could only drive to Houmoed and back.

Sightings were at first very scarce until we saw one of my favorite birds -

The Northern Black Korhaan

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Loads of birds around including a Red Crested Korhaan. As we came over one dune we had a fleeting glimpse of a Caracal that was crossing the road into the dunes. Far too quick for a picture.

Time was against us and after scanning the trees at Houmoed for the resident Leopard who was nowhere to be seen had to return to camp.

Arrived and had a nice hot shower after a long day - Congratulations to the staff at Twee Rivieren on spotlessly clean ablution facilities. :clap:

After an early dinner we crawled into our tents for a good nights sleep hoping that our first full day in the park tomorrow would be a successful one................

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


Last edited by norms on Wed May 25, 2011 6:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 9:16 am 
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Location: All over the place!!
Day 3 Twee Rivieren

Sjoe - It can get cold in the Kgalagadi!! Woke up at about 04H00 shivering in the tent and I did have plenty of blankets.

Left Twee Rivieren at 7am after coffee and rusks and planned a drive to Auchterlonie for brunch - What would this day have in store for us?

Pygmy Falcon in the Auob

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Swallow-Tailed Bee Eater

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Typical Kgalagadi dune scene

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Secretary birds at Rooibrak

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Enjoyed a good fry up at Auchterlonie - Bacon, sausage and eggs on toast!! MMmm
After brunch turned right and continued onto Kamqua - now this is where the road gets bad!! :evil:

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 9:33 am 
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Location: All over the place!!
Day 3 Twee Rivieren cont.

After a hearty brunch we continued up the Auob - Here the shake, rattle and roll started. The roads north of Auchterlonie are badly corrugated - one could hardly talk as the air was forcibly expelled from your lungs - :shock:

This cute little guy entertained us for some time near Batulama - (Micetta - thought of you here)

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Four Bat-Eared foxes were foraging in the riverbed but too far for any photo. We hoped to see them closer and get some pic's.

Now the Kalahari is renowned for it's huge black maned lions - Checking the sightings board at Twee Rivieren the previous afternoon I noticed that lions had been spotted in the Auob at various places yesterday - We looked and looked - Where were they?

Arrived at Kamqua and by now the cold morning had given way to a beautiful warm day - so it was off with the layers of clothing.

The road conditions seemed to get worse so decided to turn around and head back to Twee Rivieren.

Lovely Ostriches at Montrose

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The loving couple decided they needed some privacy and turned to the dunes

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Passing Gemsbokplein we saw this Secretary Bird with two chicks - Dad was on the ground looking for some tasty treats for them - (Photo cropped)

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OH what did I do wrong in life to end up looking like this?

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Well those famous cats of the Kalahari eluded us today. Spoke to a few of the fellow campers who had no luck either - Will we get them tomorrow - :hmz: :hmz:

Chilled out for the rest of the afternoon - Had an amazing braai of rump steak, mushroom sauce, corn on the cob and sweet potatoes baked to perfection.

By now the temperature was falling fast, so time to layer those winter woolies again...............

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


Last edited by norms on Fri May 27, 2011 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 1:54 pm 
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Location: All over the place!!
Day 4 - Twee Rivieren to Nossob

After yet another cold night we were up and about very early. Time to take the tents down, pack up and leave for Nossob.

Jannie (KG) never received the note that I had left for him at reception :naughty: I was sorry that we did not get to meet him and say hi. (Sorry Jannie, I had the cold one that I was keeping for you)

The packing went well, had our caffeine fix and were on the road shortly after 7am.

There was a great deal of Sandgrouse activity around Houmoed. The birds flew around in flocks then landed at the water. Both Namaqua and Burchell's were doing their morning thing - The waterhole had a lot of long grass around it so it made taking photo's so difficult.

We watched these pretty birds for sometime before moving on.

Then sitting quietly next to the road, some distance away from the water, this female Namaqua Sandgrouse posed so nicely.

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and not too far away this Capped Wheatear

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Stopped off at Auchterlonie for a leg stretch before turning onto the lower dune road.
I love traveling these dune roads - true Kalahari country - and hey, you never know what you might see!!

Stopped off at the lookout point above Kij Gamies and looked over the Kalahari

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A little way down the road came across some Ostriches with a nursery of chicks. Dad was more interested in this juicy Tsamma melon -

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Note the Tsamma Melon in his throat!! :lol:

Swallowed with ease and down it goes..........
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Mom calls and says 'Dad that's enough - Time to go'
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Sightings were few and far between on the lower dune road until we arrived in the Nossob.............................

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


Last edited by norms on Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 11:12 am 
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Location: All over the place!!
Day 4 cont.

........ The lower dune road behind us and we arrived at the Nossob river. Now the area around the Nossob is know for it's big cat sightings.

Were we going to get lucky today? Feline depression was starting to set in - :cry:


First up was these frisky Springboks doing their pronking thing


Image


Stopped at Melkvlei for brunch and there was a strong cool breeze blowing which was most unpleasant. So brunch was a quick affair. Hopped back in the vehicle and we were off again.

Up to know we had seen quite a few Kori Bustards but with all the long grass around could not get a decent photo. This fine specimen obliged. Do you know that these birds can weigh up to 18kg, making them the heaviest flying birds in the world!!

Image

By now that cool breeze had turned into a nasty wind and I think this did have something to do with the lack of sightings for the rest of the day.

Stopped at Kameelsleep to find these blokes having a dispute over something

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And at Cheleka some Red Hartebeest

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The rest of the trip to Nossob did not yield much in the way of sightings - rather quiet!!

This very welcoming sign greeted us upon arrival

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We seemed to be doomed every time we set up camp - Those winds were now so strong that it made things very difficult - once again
anything that was not properly secured was littered around the camp site.

So, oK no Lions or Cheetah's today - :wall: :wall:

But wait - Just wait ................................!!

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


Last edited by norms on Sun May 29, 2011 6:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:23 pm 
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Location: All over the place!!
Day 5 Nossob - Unions End - Nossob

We up well before sunrise today as we planned to drive to Union's End and back to Nossob. Queued for our permits and were out of the gates shortly after 7am.

Up too now we had been severely deprived of cat sightings - Fingers crossed we turned left out of the camp and headed north.

Near Cubitje Quap this Scaly-Feathered Finch

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Loved this scene at Bedinkt - So typical of the Kalahari

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WOW!! The further north you go the grass seems to get longer and longer. We could have been right next to good sighting and would not have noticed it at all.

There were plenty of very fresh Lion tracks in the road near Polentswa - cub tracks as well!!

Stopped in at all the waterholes along the way - But zilch, niks, nothing!!

Approaching Lijersdraai we were flagged down by a very friendly couple who said they had just come across a big male lion and lioness at the turnoff to Lijersdraai waterhole. They had watched them for a while before the cats left the road and went to lie under a tree.
Excitement mounted and we headed in that direction - zilch,niks, nothing under any tree!!

Spent sometime at Lijersdraai waterhole and decided that the Lions weren't going to show themselves. As we got back onto the road - STOP LION!!
The huge male sat up in the grass for a few seconds before flopping down again only to disappear from sight :wall: :wall:

The rest of the trip to Unions End was uneventful with sightings of general game

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Marico Flycatcher

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Found the Yellow Ribbon Forumites book at Unions End and saw that icurry and SO had been there the day before. Would we meet?

This Gemsbok had the most 'amazing' set of horns I have ever seen on a Gemsbok

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On the way back we stopped off at the spot we saw the Lion - Scanned the long, long grass and eventually located two lumps in the grass bgut all we saw was a bit of chest rising and falling.

At Polentswa this stunning Bataleur Eagle and juvenile - (pic cropped)

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Youngster flew off and perched in a tree just above the car -

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Just before getting back to Nossob a Cape Cobra made its way across the road - too quick for a pic.

So today we had our first taste of the cat's of the Kgalagadi - I just knew tomorrow would be a better day ..................

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:16 pm 
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Location: All over the place!!
While I am waiting for the page to turn I want to share these with you -

A Red Necked Falcon- an uncommon resident! (Please excuse the pic but it was far off the road)

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The Kgalagadi is a wonderful place for seeing raptors - More of these too come

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................... and of course Tsamma melons everywhere!!

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Next post coming up soon!!

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:02 am 
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Day 6 - Grootkolk

This was a day that I had been looking forward too. After 5 nights camping, a bed tonight at Grootkolk would be most welcome!!

Once again, up and about very early and my was it cold. 1 Celsius - :cry:

Packed what we needed for Grootkolk - (Our friend was not coming with as Grootkolk was full) - said goodbye and off we went with high expectations for the day.

Stopped at Cubitje Quap and were entertained by hundreds of Red-Headed Finches going about their morning routine.

Carried on northwards and saw some cars parked ahead - Now this means something!! :shock:

And there she was - lying in the morning sun

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Finally, the cats of Kgalagadi had revealed themselves - Great excitement!!

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Not long after we arrived she decided to cross the road and disappear into the long grass

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The grass was so long that this is all we saw of her.
The 3 other cars waited a while and then drove off - Lioness gone!!
But we waited a bit longer and were rewarded with this -

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Patience had paid off

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The two lionesses must have decided that walking in the road was much easier than struggling through the long grass. They stayed in the road for about 15 minutes before eying out some Gemsbok in the distance.

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Shortly after this magnificent sighting of these two majestic lionesses, they once again disappeared into the long grass - :wall:

We waited a while but they did not come back.

Journey to Grootkolk to continue..................

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:18 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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FAC Member (2012)
Cound it be the same one?

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Whatever (according to BB): "You are correct but I don't want to admit it".


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:52 pm 
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Location: All over the place!!
Day 6 cont. Nossob to Grootkolk

............we were absolutely thrilled with the fantastic lion sighting that we had just had.

Had our luck turned? :hmz:

At Bedinkt our first Lilac-Breasted Roller for the trip

Image

Stopped by all the waterholes on the way up but once again it was very quiet -

Had a lovely breakfast at Lijersdraai and just as we were packing up to leave I hear "A Yellow Ribbon"
It was icurry and SO (Russ) on their way from Grootkolk to Nossob. Great too have met you and hope you enjoyed the rest of your time in the park. icurry did warn us that it was cold, very cold at Grootkolk during the night, so we were prepared.

Kannaguass was dry but these two were getting a mineral or two from the surrounding area -

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Arrived at Grootkolk and were warmly welcomed by the camp attendant, Franco.
We had, prior to our arrival requested Desert Cabin #1, but were told that it had been taken already. To our surprise Franco told us we would be staying in #1 - :dance: :dance: . Desert Cabin #1 is closest to the waterhole and does have the best views - Thank you Franco!!

Unpacked the little that we had for our stay and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. The bird life in and around Grootkolk is amazing. We were entertained by Red Headed Finches, Sociable Weavers, Red Billed Queleas, Lanner Falcons, Shaft Tailed Whydahs and Tawny Eagles.

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(We did not put the water out for the birds - this container was there when we arrived. The birds loved it)

In Tobieo's recent trip report I read that he had stayed in #1. While relaxing I read through the sightings book and he had written about the lioness with cubs at Geinab, so a late afternoon drive was planned there.

Geinab was dry and there was very little activity in the area so we drove a little further north. In the road we came across this freshish Lion dung and there were plenty of little prints all around.

She must be around here somewhere - :hmz:

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We will try again tomorrow morning - :pray:

Then, a rare sight in the Kgalagadi but unfortunately they were some distance from the road -

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On all my previous visits to the Kgalagadi this was a first for me - Warthog!!

Got back to camp just in time and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. Just as it was starting to get dark some Spotted Hyena's visited the waterhole, had their drink and walked right past out cabin.
During the night we heard them very close and the following morning there were tracks all over the place.

......................... to be continued!

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


Last edited by norms on Sun Jun 05, 2011 7:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:19 pm 
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Location: All over the place!!
After a wonderful nights sleep we were up and about early and enjoyed our morning coffee on the patio overlooking the waterhole at Grootkolk.

We were all packed up and ready to leave at 7am. Said goodbye to Franco and thanked him for a wonderful stay.

We headed north towards Geinab to see if 'Tobeio's' lioness and cubs could be found - but alas they were nowhere to be seen. There was however fresh lion spoor in the road, so they must have been around somewhere.

After scanning the area we turned around and started the drive back to Nossob.

First up was this beautiful Tawny Eagle at Kannaguass

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Not far away these blokes were warming up in the morning sun -

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Sightings were very quiet this morning but it was wonderful to just drive slowly and take in the scenery of the Kgalagadi.

At Lijersdraai this Red Hartebeest was quenching his thirst - We looked for the mating pair of lions that we had briefly seen two days ago but they too had decided to disappear.

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The grass was so very long most of the way that the most exciting sightings could have been happening right nest to the road and we would have been totally unaware of anything - :wall: :wall:

Just south of Kousand this Black Backed Jackal was finding something very interesting in this bush next to the road - He did not hang around for long and was soon off into the long grass -

Image

Arrived back at Nossob and decided to spend the afternoon in camp and then do a late afternoon drive.

Next up - The animals of Nossob.

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi - The Thirstland In Winter
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:29 am 
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Posts: 888
Location: All over the place!!
Day 7 - Nossob Camp

After the drive down from Grootkolk we decided to spend the afternoon relaxing in Nossob camp.

The bird life in and around the camp is prolific - The birds are accustomed to human activity and are relatively tame.

Ground-Scraper Thrush

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Juvenile Fork-Tailed Drongo

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Spotted Eagle Owl -

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Why must there always be a branch in the way? :wall: :wall: In the same tree was the cutest Pearl Spotted Owlet but he was well hidden and difficult to photograph.

Lilac-Breasted Roller

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...................and some cute little mammals as well!!

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Yellow Mongoose

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That evening, after an early dinner, we went to the Nossob hide and believe it or not, missed a Leopard drinking by 15 seconds. When we got there all that we could see was the eyes of the Leopard in the bushes behind the waterhole. The folks that had seen it said it was quite relaxed and drank for some time.
Timing is everything!! :doh: :doh: .......................................

_________________
If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

No to Hotels in Kruger

Every time I get the news that another Rhino has died, a piece of me dies too - Edna the Brave


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