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 Post subject: Timbits Memories of.......Red Sand - October 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:35 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Here is my very first attempt at a trip report.

First of all, a bit of history. We're Canadians, from Toronto. We fell in love with Africa about 20 years ago. Our first experience was to Kenya and Tanzania as part of a small group. Back in the early 90's, (before the internet), it was difficult to get info on Africa. It's not exactly a top 10 destination for Canadians.

We enjoyed it so much, that we started planning our return while still in Tanzania. Since that first trip, we've visited most of the major wildlife parks in Eastern and Southern Africa. The first few trips were as part of a group. That got to be a little trying because most people who book a package are doing "the trip of a lifetime" and want to tick off as many different animals as possible in the shortest period of time.

We wanted to see more - how/why the animals behave, etc. We weren't keen on the "rest" period between 10 am and 3:30 pm, either. Surely, something is going on out there.......

After 5 group trips, we had had enough. We were ready to spread our wings and try it on our own.

Our first solo trip was Kruger in 2001. We went from Croc Bridge to Punda Maria and had a blast. Our first venture to Kgalagadi was in 2005. We've been back to South Africa almost every single year since 2001.

This was our fourth trip to Kgalagadi and we had a few "firsts".
All are welcome to come along for the ride.


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:26 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Let the journey begin.

Sunday August 26
Up at 3:30 am. We were at the airport by 5:30 am. This time, we decided to fly via New York because it's now a direct flight - only about 14 1/2 hours on the way down. Whoever coined the phrase "Getting there is half the fun" must have been flying first class or business class because this part really isn't much fun.

It took about an hour to get the phone and internet access straightened out at the airport in Johannesburg. We were at our hotel by 11 am. There have been some changes, but the beds are still comfortable and the shower works well. We were in bed before 9:30 pm.

Tuesday August 28
Back to the airport for our flight to Upington. The last time we were in the Upington airport, there was a lot of construction going on. Now it's finished and this is a really nice little airport. Job well done.

We did all of our shopping and were on the road by 1:30 pm. On the way to the park we encountered 28 non-commercial vehicles going in the opposite direction, 10 commercial vehicles and 1 cop car. Going in the same direction as us were 3 vehicles plus one that passed us. This is not a road to break down on.

The road to Ashkam is very straight, after that, lots of curves and lots of animals (mainly goats) wandering onto the road.

Arrived in Twee Rivieren @ 4 pm, exactly 2 1/2 hours after leaving Upington.

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Dumped off our stuff, put away the food and took a quick drive to Samevloeiing. First sightings included wildebeest, gemsbok, a canary, a tawny eagle, eland, swallow-tailed bee eater and the usual springbok.
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Not bad for our first day.


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:40 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Wednesday August 29
The gate opens at 7 am in August, but we've booked a walk. Walks leave half an hour before the gate opens. We meet with Kgalagadi Guru in front of the old reception building. THere are 2 others on the walk - 2 women who did a walk in Nossob earlier. There, they were stalked by lions. We aren't that lucky. (I have complete faith in KG). THe drive to the starting point is a bit cool. We don't have jackets, but it's quite comfortable when we're walking.

The only animals that we see are eland and wildebeest, and they are in the distance. Have you ever seen trees with large Sociable Weaver nest in them where a branch has broken and part of the nest is on the ground?

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It's the weight of the nest that causes the branch to break, right? Well, that's not the complete story. Look a little more closely, and you'll probably notice a nest made of small twigs in the crotch of the broken branch. It's the nest of this little cute little thing - a tree rat.
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They urinate and defecate in their nests. Over the years, this compromises the branch, and it breaks.
Sociable Weaver

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Afternoon game drive was uneventful. It was quite windy and we only went as far as the cutoff to Rooiputs.


Last edited by Timbits on Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:10 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
It's still August, so the gate opens at 7 am. Tomorrow it will open at 6:30.

This morning's drive is towards Melkvlei. The usual were out: springbok, wildebeest and gemsbok. At Leeuwdril, there were 3 or 4 cars that we could see, and some animal was walking around the water tank, checking it out. It would get up on it's hind legs as if trying to look/get into the tank. Yesterday when we had been by, there were a couple of Sanparks people working on it. Maybe this is their assistant :hmz: The sign at the water hole says that it is temporarily out of service.

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"Some animal" turns out to be a leopard, rather small and my guess is a young female. :big_eyes: She went around the tank and then headed for the tree beside the (dry) water hole. She jumped up on the lower branch of the tree, looked around a bit and then crossed the road.
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There were shrubs on the other side of the road. She stood beside the shrubs, in plain view, peering intently into the shrubs. At one point, she lifted her left front paw off the ground. Then she pounced up and over the shrubs, and came down about 2 meters into the shrubs. There was a puff of dust. Then another pounce and a bit more dust. Then nothing - we couldn't see the leopard and there were no sounds. After a few minutes, she emerged with a kill in her mouth. :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

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It was an African Wild Cat. Not quite the way I had envisioned see my first AWC of this trip.

She was trying to cross back to the water hole side, but by this time there were about 10 vehicles, and she was spooked. After a couple of false starts, she managed to get through the traffic jam and into "her" tree. She dragged her breakfast up to the large branch that was parallel to the ground. The kill was deposited in the crotch of the branch, but kept slipping. She would snag it with her claws and drag it back up. At one point, it slid off and landed on the ground. She retrieved it and sat proudly beside it.

Confident that it was secure, she jumped down to the lower branch. She may have injured her right front paw. There was blood on it, and she shook it out a few times. Enough time had passed that if it were blood from the kill, she would have cleaned it up. She then plastered herself to the tree to enjoy a rest.

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This happened around 8 am and lasted about 30 - 40 minutes. It's the first time we've ever seen a kill, and the first time we have had such an awesome leopard sighting. This leopard has used the tree before as a dining table. There is a spot on the upper brach that has a lot of feathers on t, and I'm assuming that it is from a previous meal.

Before leaving, I had been reading WendyA's - A Spotty Easter trip report. Maybe her luck was rubbing off on me :whistle:

What an AMAZING sighting!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:28 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
@Philip1 and @judik – Welcome aboard, still plenty of room.

@vvv – lovely to see you again too, hope you enjoy the ride.

@Heksie – a very warm welcome to you too.

For all those who have never been to KTP, it is a fabulous place, but it has become the victim of it’s own success. Today is October 01, and reservations have just opened for September 2013. We sent in our request for accommodation for next September. We got a response that 6 of the 16 nights are not available. :( Unbelievable!!! Unfortunately, camping isn’t really an option for us, neither is paying in full 11 months in advance. Who knows what will happen between now and next September? We will work with what we have and keep an eye out for cancellations.

We were thrilled with the leopard sighting and thought that KG might be interested in seeing the photos, so we stopped in to see him on the day we left the park. He told us that the leopard is Cagn and she is in the Leopard Identification booklet that has been created. I had a copy and left it with KG. I’ve since been in contact with AstroMatt and he has informed me that it has been reported that Cagn has killed 2 AWCs recently. :( :( :( She was born in May 2011 and is expanding her range. Since she is a young cat, she is still learning. Hopefully, she will be going after bigger prey soon. :pray:

@Trrp-trrrrrrrr – another great sighting a little further on

Travelling north, we came across 4 vehicles at Kij Kij, and for good reason. 1, 2, .....6 young lions, plus one big black-maned male laying on the red sand. What a beautiful image, but only through the binoculars. Too far away for decent photos.

Took a quick trip up to Melkvlei and then turned around. The lions had moved. They crossed the lower dune road. There were 2 vehicles ahead of us. One was a small car and he angled his vehicle so that no one could get by. The 6 lions crossed in front of the first car. There were 4 or 5 cars behind us. I don’t know if the guy blocked the road in consideration of the lions, knowing that everyone would try to get closer. The lions headed over the dune.


We continued on to Leeuwdril and there were a few cars there. We asked if the leopard was still around, someone told us she was behind the tree. We did see a few spots sleeping right up against the tree.
Continued south for about 1 km and something small ran across the road. It was awfully quick. I’m guessing it was an AWC. Not a good sighting, but at least it was alive.

For the afternoon drive, we went back to Kij Kij. We saw quite a few secretary birds, and the same hartebeest as in the morning.
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They were still in the same place. Back at Leeuwdril, the leopard got up and retrieved the carcass from the crotch of the tree and started feeding on the same spot where the feathers were. She didn’t eat much, it looked more like she was playing with it. At one point, I counted 11 vehicles, which is a MAJOR traffic jam for this park. I think everyone on the Nossob side has been at this sighting today.

Saw a few jackals, a black breasted snake eagle and a spotted eagle owl.
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I shared my shower with some creepy crawlie. I reached down to get the shampoo and there was something about an inch long in the shower with me. I can’t see without my glasses so I have no idea what it was. I didn’t bother asking for ID. I threw some water at it but that didn’t do anything. I threw some shampoo lather at it and quickly finished up. Hopefully it ended up down the drain. Sometimes not knowing is best!


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:08 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Welcome aboard Tobieo – it’s never too late to join.

I need a bit of assistance. Back in early September 2007, we left Upington and came across these signs on our way to Kgalagadi.

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On the return, the English signs were back. Thankfully, we had been on this road before, otherwise we would have been a wee bit confused. Does anyone know the story behind the signs? Was it for a movie shoot?


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:47 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Friday August 31
Moving to Urikaruus today. Took a slow leisurely drive up. SO hit the brakes and backed up - mating pygmy falcons. Well that's certainly a first! Of course by the time I got the camera out, it was too late. You'll have to take my word for it.

(I did a Google search to find out what a large number of ostriches is called and came up with flock or herd. I'm going with herd - to me it sounds more impressive. ) We saw a herd of 27 ostriches and then another of 12. Here is part of the herd.
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They were all female......and you can make up your own jokes. I'm leaving it at that.

In one small area, we saw meerkats,

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a yellow mongoose

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and ground squirrels, all happily co-existing. I love watching them, especially the meerkats.

Crimson breasted shrikes are always difficult to photograph because they just won't stay still, or when they do, they're in the shade. I think they are beautiful.
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We also saw the usual pale chanting goshawks, a black quilled korhaan and a scimitar billed hoopoe.

We visited the hyena den that is 5 km north of the cutoff for Urikaruus camp. We had found it 3 years ago, and wanted to see if it was still being used. 2 adult hyenas was laying in the shade. We went up to 13th and 14th waterholes, but there was no activity. Came back and cheked into Urikaruus. The tourism assistant told us there hadn't been much activity at the waterhole, except for 2 hyenas. The sightings book in our room didn't agree.

Later in the afternoon, we went back to the hyena den. The 2 adults were still there. Every once in awhile, one of the adults would go back to the den and peer into it for a minute or two. On one visit, it pulled out a tiny black cub, that couldn't have been more than about 25 - 30 cm long. It was almost like the 2 adults were fighting over it, both trying to carrying it at the same time, a short way away from the den, but always returning. I was beginning to wonder if it was even alive or not. Finally, one laid down with it as if to nurse. The other hyena then stuck it's nose in where the pup was. The mother just covered the pup with her top hind leg and the nosy hyena laid down about 10 meters away and sulked.

We took a quick trip up to 13th waterhole, but it was quiet so we returned to the hyena den. The pup was now under the mother's chin. It tried to climb up on her shoulder, but wasn't strong enough and decided thaqt staying under her chin wasn't all that bad after all.

We returned to our hut and watched a yellow billed hornbill rip apart and eat a bird that it had caught.

It was a busy evening at the waterhole -
7 pm - 2 hyenas. One decided to check out the huts after having a drink.
7:15 pm - one cape fox that didn't make it to the water hole. I think the spotlights may have spooked it.
7:30 pm - a caracal which was another first for us. The people in the unit next to us had a really powerful torch - it reached the dune behind the waterhole. The caracal stayed for about 5 or 10 minutes.
8 pm - 2 eland - spotlights and any noises seemed to spook them, they didn't stay very long.
8:40 pm another eland
9:20 pm - at leaset 30 eland

No idea what showed up later, because we were in bed.


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:20 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
tedredrum – your son and I are on the same page with the meerkats. They are so entertaining.
BTW, nighthawk2’s favourite camp in Kruger is Malelane. We’ve had some great sightings right at the fence.....and Sanparks was in the process of replacing the fence when we were there.

Trrp-trrrrrrrr - thanks for the kind comments. I am thoroughly enjoying writing this.

hilda and barryels – thanks for continuing to read and comment. I was lucky with the mongoose and crimson breasted shrike. I also won’t tell you how many photos I've had to ditch.

judik - I agree – the meerkitties are great entertainment.

Philip1 – glad you’re still aboard. Thanks for commenting.

Pumbaa – the waterhole at Urikaruus has been good to us. I just wish I could stay awake longer. I know we missed a lot.

lionspoon – Welcome aboard. There’s always room. You are so lucky – 2 trips to KTP within 6 months. I’m :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

wanderw – thanks for the kind comments. We spent a good deal of time watching hyenas this time, both in KTP and KNP. They can be fascinating when you actually spend some time with them.

normana53 – nice to have you aboard. Enjoy Kruger – I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time. Looking forward to hearing all about it. If you’re considering KTP, book as soon as you possibly can. We’re trying for September 2013 and have not been able to get what we want. We’re hoping for cancellations.

MM – thanks for continuing to follow along. KTP encourages one to look at the whole picture, not just the “WOW” sightings. :D :D

Saturday September 01
Last night was rather cool....scratch that, it was cold!!! :shock: We had left all the windows open – just in case something interesting walked by in the middle of the night. The tourist assistant said it was around freezing or maybe even a little cooler. I certainly believe him. My friends at home will never believe that I froze my butt in Africa!!!! :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

We left camp around 6:30, passed the hyena den, all was quiet there. 13th and 14th waterholes were dry. The waterholes are on solar pumps, maybe it’s too early for the pumps to be working. Just past 13th waterhole was a group of about 8 giraffe. Here is one of them.

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Noticed that a lot of the trees in the riverbed had active nests on top, usually occupied by 2 vultures, but at least one of them was occupied by tawnys.

Just north of Craig Lockhart, there was a stopped vehicle. As we approached them, they left. On the driver’s side of the road, just under a tree, was something small. It turned out to be an African Wild Cat. YES!!! :dance: :dance: It crossed over to the other side and then started playing hide and seek with me. I got a few photos and then it walked up to a shrub and another AWC appeared.

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(I love the expression on it's face). :lol: They played a bit, and one ran across the road, while the other went further up the dune. There was only one other vehicle there, approaching from the opposite direction. It turned out to be a couple that we talked to yesterday. They were thrilled because they had seen both AWCs. They had been to many parks and this was their first sighting. We were pretty thrilled too. We’ve seen them before but this was the first time that we had seen 2 together.
We went up to Mata Mata, and then returned to camp. No special sightinsgs along the way.
Back at camp, the tourist assistant told us that 3 young lions had been at the water hole around 8:10 am and had stayed for about an hour. Too bad we missed them, but we got to see AWCs. You can’t be everywhere at the same time.

For the afternoon drive, we went to Kamqua. Just south of there, 3 years ago, we had found a cape fox den. No cape fox this time, just a lot more holes. We drove to Vaalpan, the first water hole on the upper dune road. We saw a few ostriches, a korhaan, a few kori bustards and no cars.

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Back at the hyena den only one adult was around. We slowly drove back to camp as the sun was starting to set.
I had left 3 (raw) potatoes on the counter after lunch. When we came back, one had been “sampled”. Yesterday evening, when I was in the kitchen, I heard a “thud” and saw omething move out of the corner of my eye. Later, I saw something small scurry up the tree. I’m assuming it’s a tree rat, since I saw it gnawing on the tree. I think it prefers the tree over the potato.

Around 8 pm, 2 hyenas showed up at the waterhole and scared away the few eland that were there. A jackal was snuffling around in the bushes close to the huts. 10 eland showed up, were scared away by something and then came back, with 2 wildebeest in tow. Around 8:45pm, another 6 or 7 eland came by, but they only stayed a minute or 2 before something spooked them. Their hooves make a lot of noise, kind of like a clacking sound. I don’t know why, but they make me think of Santa’s reindeer. 2 different cape foxes came by around 9 pm, one stopped for a drink, the other didn’t. More eland came back, but by 9:15 pm we decided to turn in. It was freezing!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:47 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

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Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
tedredrum, Trrp-trrrrrrrr, judik and hilda:
thanks for following along and commenting.

Sunday September 02
We remembered to close the window flaps but last night was even colder than the previous night. I woke up around 1:30 am because I was freezing. The eland and hyena were around but I was too cold to care. I got dressed (sweatshirt, jeans, socks) and put the last blanket on the bed. At least I’ll save a few minutes in the morning.

I don’t know if I slept through the lion visit later or just had so many blankets on that I didn’t hear anything, but I missed it.

We left Urikaruus at 8:30 am, destination Grootkolk, so it’s a long day today. We took the Upper Dune Road. It really should be renamed to the world’s longest roller coaster.

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We stopped at Vaalpan where we saw a Lanner falcon eating something, probably a sand grouse.

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We saw the usual: korhaan, ostrich, and gemsbok.

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At Dikbaardskolk, I was speaking to a woman who was staying at Twee Rivieren and she said it had been pretty cold there last night too. We continued on and saw 2 male kudu at Marie se gat. The road is still pretty sandy from Dikbaardskolk to Nossob, but especially so around Marie se draii and Marie se gat. At least we didn’t get stuck this time, because this time around we have a 4 x 4. The first 3 times we visited, we rented a sedan and nice people pulled us out of the sand. Along the way, we saw a crowned lapwing,

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bateleur eagle

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and a striped mouse.
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Sitting on our patio at Grootkolk, our neighbours walked by and asked if we had been neighbours 2 days ago at Urikaruus. We were and started chatting. Margaret and Armin are from Cape Town, and a lovely couple. We chatted until about 10:30 before calling it a night.


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:09 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Thanks to everyone for their comments, they are appreciated.

Trrp-trrrrrrrr – some days certainly can be scorching. More than once I’ve alternated between sitting in the sun for 5 minutes, then in the shade for 5 minutes..... The vehicle didn’t have a thermometer, but I know that it was below freezing some mornings when we left.

billyf, pumbaa , SandyS – thanks, the AWC sighting was pretty special. And, it was nice that the other couple stopped because they wanted to see what we had seen. And I didn't even think of using the hot water bottle until you mentioned it. Duh!!!

Philip1 - the striped mice were conspicuous by their absence. We didn’t see many this time around.

Meandering Mouse, wanderw – SO thinks I’m crazy taking pictures of the roads, but I find that when I look at the photos later, they bring back the essence of the park.

Sharifa – thanks for joining the tour. The photo of the sign still makes me smile every time I see it. It’s a good thing it wasn’t on our first trip to the park.

Lionspoon - 2 weeks will go by quickly. :D I wish you great sightings on your trip. If you seeCagn around Leeudril, say "Hi" for me :twisted: .

Hilda – gemsbok standing at the top of the dune is so typical Kalahari. I wish I had gotten more of the dune though. Sounds like a good reason to go back. :whistle:

barryels - I love the little mouse too. I need more photos of them which give me another reason to go back. :whistle:

Monday September 03
We didn’t see anything of note at the water hole last night. It's a shame the light is turned off at 9 pm.

This is our third visit to Grootkolk and we’ve not yet been to Union’s End, so that’s where we’re heading this morning. We left around 7:30 am. Not much on the road except for a large number of vultures in one area. We looked around for a kill but didn’t see anything. We saw 2 bat eared foxes, but they were quite far away.

There is a picnic spot on the way to Union’s End. A long time ago, I learned that one never passes by a picnic spot without stopping and using the facilities. I don’t carry a Lay’s tube and you never know when you might come across a sighting that you just don’t want to leave. As we pulled in to the picnic spot, I said “Look, lion”. There was a male lion about 15 – 20 metres, lying on the sand. :dance: I'm always amazed at how well they blend in with the background.

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SO looked to the right and said “And there’s the female”, about 30 metres away, lying near a picnic table. :dance: :dance:

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WOW!!! Mating lions, and we are the only ones here! How cool is that? We had a few biscuits while we waited. After about 10 minutes, the female got up and walked to the men’s toilet. It looked like she was lapping up water on the floor.

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Then she went behind the toilet and came out behind the ladies’ side.

She went in,

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“freshened up?” and came back out.

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Then she went and laid close to the male. He then got up and flopped down about 2 metres away from her, in the grass. He was very well hidden. He was limping badly, left front paw was injured, he had a hard time putting his weight on it. Another vehicle showed up, stayed about 20 minutes and then left.
We’ve been sitting here for close to an hour. I’m pretty sure there are no cubs in the loo, and no other lioness waiting in the background. With nothing to take my mind off the original reason for stopping, it’s becoming a pressing issue. SO drives as close to the toilets as possible. He tells me to leave the window down, just in case he want to take :cam: . I wait another 5 minutes, and then slowly exit the vehicle. I cautiously peered inside the toilet to make sure there were no surprises. :big_eyes: I closed the door, but now it’s pitch black because there are no windows in here. It turns out that it doesn’t really matter, because the door doesn’t latch. The toilet is not really within arm’s reach of the door, and I certainly don’t want to trip over something in the dark, so the door stays open. While I’m sitting down, the water conservation ditty is running through my mind - “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down”. Oh $h!t, I have to flush! Are the lions listening? Will the sound of rushing water bring the lioness? Everything is quiet outside. I peek outside and the male has moved out of the grass and is beside the female.

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I’m pretty sure he has other things on his mind, but ....... I flush and exit as quickly as possible.
Quickly/quietly and gracefully are mutually exclusive. I settle for quickly/quietly. Back in the vehicle, I made sure the door was properly closed and looked around. The racing heartbeat quickly slows to normal when I see that the lions seem disinterested in what is going on around them. After another 20 minutes of inactivity, we decided to head up to Union’s End. We signed the book, but all was quiet so we went back to the picnic spot. The lions are still there, but now SO needs to use the facilities. No point in making a new plan when the old one has been proven to work. We parked as close to the toilets as possible and SO was quickly out and back in. Lions were still resting comfortably, so we decided to leave them in peace. The return to camp was uneventful.

We stayed in camp for the afternoon. The first time we were here, we were entertained by the striped mice. They would come out of their burrows, cut down a stalk of grass and bring it back, where they would proceed to gnaw on it. It was so quiet that you could actually hear them chewing. This time, they just aren’t around.

I put out a plate of water, and within a minute or two, the sociable weavers have discovered it.

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It’s quite amusing to watch them. I had hoped the striped mice would show up like the first time, but they just aren’t around. There were a number of these lizards around.
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They are quite common but I have no idea what they are called. Can someone identify them, please?
Our neighbours invited us over for a braii. I decided to make roosterkoeks. I had found the recipe on the internet about a month before our vacation. I had to make a number of modifications to the recipe before I tried it. It called for self-rising flour which I don’t use, so I had to substitute flour and baking powder. The measurements were by weight (grams), I’m used to volume (cups), so I converted that. I made them at home over a gas grill and they turned out to be tasty little morsels, so I decided to give it a try. The cups that are in the chalet are teacups and mugs. I mixed everything together and hoped for the best. Our neighbours had a nifty little wire basket that was perfect for them.

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10 minutes later, we tried them, and no one was more surprised than I was that they turned out perfect. We had a lovely dinner with great company. Around 10:30 pm, we decided to call it a night.


Last edited by Timbits on Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:34 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Philip1, Trrp-trrrrrrrr, barryels – it was :hmz: ”interesting”. I’m happy to report that the lioness practiced “proper loo etiquette”. :whistle:

Meandering Mouse –this experience certainly was a lesson to me. Countless times I have gotten out of the vehicle after just a quick look around. I’ve started being a little more careful now.

Wanderw – Grootkolk is magic.....and it's also very difficult to get space there.

GavinW – thanks for the correction. Entry has been updated. :redface:

Cape of Storms – welcome aboard. There is still lots of room on this bus.

Tuesday September 04
There was a brown hyena at the water hole this morning. We’ve had quick glimpses of brown hyena before, and even though this wasn’t a great sighting, it’s the best so far.

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Unfortunately, the water hole is quite far away, this sighting was mainly through the binoculars. This was a very thirsty hyena because it took a very long drink before coming up for air. The hyena departed and a little later there were 4 kudu at the water hole, 2 females and 2 young males.

According to the tourist assistant, another couple was supposed to have stayed the night before, but they cancelled at the last minute. Apparently, they had stayed in th camp 3 years ago when there had been a fire in the veld that had been started by lightening. The fire had been close to the camp and there had been a concern that the camp may have to be evacuated. The fire was put out and no evacuation was required. There are currently some veld fires in Botswana, heading in the direction of the camp, possibly towards the road. There is only one road in. The couple came into camp, checked out the hut,but they were too afraid to stay, so they returned to Nossob. The tourist assistant said it was the first time that has ever happened. What a shame the chalet was unoccupied for the night. This is a very special place and it’s extremely difficult to get space.

We left Grootkolk and drove to Nossob, arriving around 12:30 pm.

The gentleman who checked us in was the tourist assistant at Urikaruus 3 years ago when we were there. What a small world this really is!

We unpacked (a bit of a stretch considering we are near the end of our adventure), had a bite to eat and then went to the hide. There was a woman there with an infant that started babbling shortly after we arrived. She left after about 10 minutes. The afternoon drive took us to Marie se gat via a very sandy road - and, we didn't get stuck this time :D :D

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All was quiet there, so we went to Cubitje Quap. All was quiet there too, except for an eagle cooling his toes in the water.
We had dinner on the stoep and heard our first and only barking gecko of the trip. On previous trips, the dunes would come alive with their sound as soon as the sun set. Where have they all gone?
After dinner we went to the hide. It was rather quiet, except for a couple of jackals and an AWC. All lights are turned off at 10pm, including the water hole spotlight. , so we made our way back in the dark. The camp has really been cleaned up since our last visit 3 years ago. At that time, jackals were a real problem. We haven’t seen any of them in the camp, but the squirrels and mongoose are still around. Even though there are countless signs around asking people to not feed the animals, some still do. :sniper: :rtm:

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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:12 pm 
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Wednesday September 05
Around 8 am we popped in to the hide but there was nothing at the water hole, so we left camp. At Rooikop, there was one jackal and one hyena, but they quickly left and so did we. There were a few cars stopped between Marie se Gat and Marie se Draii. We were told there were 5 cheetahs in the grass, but we only saw 4. They were about half a kilometre away, so no photos. We’re staying at Urikaruus again tonight, so we continued on.
We’ve noticed that there were quite a few young gemsbok around.

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Can anyone identify this bird for me? Apologies for the poor quality photo but it wasn't co-operating :(

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We also came across some hartebeest.

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2 cars were stopped about 100 metres from camp. WOW!!! 3 cheetah and they’re about 15 – 20 metres off the road. This is certainly better than the earlier sighting. It looks like a mother and 2 almost fully grown cubs. We sat and watched them for about an hour.

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They moved a little closer to the camp. Maybe they were in hunting mode?

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There was a single springbok in the distance, much too far for a cheetah sprint. At one point the cheetahs were less than 15 metres away from us.
We left them to go check into camp. By this time, the springbok was aware of them and took off. The cheetahs slowly made their way to the waterhole, drank and then disappeared over the dune.


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:23 pm 
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Later in the afternoon, we went back to the hyena den. There were 5 adults/sub-adults and one pup that is much too big to be the one that we saw a few days ago.

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We didn’t see the younger one, but 3 of the adults were hanging around the den and grumbling. We went up to 13th and 14th water holes, but both were quiet. On the return, we saw a giraffe family

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And a black shouldered kite
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The water hole in front of the units was rather quiet tonight. There were 2 eland that passed by twice but were too nervous to stop for a drink. Lions are roaring, but they sound quite far away.
We went to bed listening to the sound of lions still quite far away. At 2358, the lions roared again and now they are in camp. It is 2 males, but we could only see one from the upstairs window. The lion that we could see was HUGE. He looked ghostly in the spotlight. They only stayed a few minutes. It was almost like a dream that expires at midnight. It was still a cold night, but somehow it didn’t seem quite as cold as previous nights. What a fabulous way to end our lst full day in the park. :dance: :dance: :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:30 pm 
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I am also another one whoe is interested in the recipe of the delicious looking roesterkoek, Timbits :dance: :dance:

Had a great laugh about the story of the lions at the picnic spot as I do remember having sat at one of these tables a couple of years ago :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

Great cheetah sighting also and not forget the brown hyaena :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Your unidentified bird on the ground looks a bit like a juvenile pale chanting goshawk to me :hmz:


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 Post subject: Re: Memories of.......Red Sand - 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:05 am 
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Thursday September 06
We will be leaving the park today shortly after noon to drive back to Upington. We did most of our packing last night so there are just a few things to get together. We made one last trip to the hyena den. One adult was out with the older pup, but otherwise quiet.

Driving back, we saw gemsbok,

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large herds of springbok and wildebeest,

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eland,

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kori bustard, secretary bird, crimson breasted shrike....in other words, all the usual game.


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We even saw a whistling rat – first one this trip.

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We stopped at Auchterlonie – but not before doing a thorough look around before getting out of the vehicle. :whistle:

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We were at Samevloeiing around 11 am and decided that we had time to make a quick run up to Leeudril to see if the leopard was there. There were a few vehicles there and there she was, :dance: :dance: lying on the lower branch looking out into the veld. We watched her for about 10 minutes, then she got up and started walking along the edge of the road.

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She looked like she was walking with purpose. After walking about 400 metres (with 4 or 5 cars following), she crossed the road. She is definitely in hunting mode. She walked through the grass and it was obvious that she would not be back for awhile, so we left.

We stopped in at Twee Rivieren, met KG and showed him the photos of the leopard kill. He’s the one who identified her as Cagn and later confirmed by AstroMatt as mentioned earlier.

We arrived in Upington just before 4 pm, and drove straight to the airport, dropped off the vehicle and checked in. This is a fabulous little airport. :thumbs_up: The outdoor lounge is a nice little landscaped area with sun and shade.

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You can buy drinks and/or light snacks from the snack bar inside and enjoy them either inside or out. Our flight is delayed by 2 hours and 15 minutes, due to heavy rain in Johannesburg. It’s hard to imagine because it is bone dry here. It turns out that the plane that was supposed to be flying from JNB has been hit by lightning, therefore the delay will be longer. :( :(
This airport even has a mascot – Sokkies – the airport cat. Here he is keeping Nighthawk2’s blood pressure under control after hearing about the latest delay.

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We met him 3 years ago, but at that time, he was living outside, under the Budget Car Rental hut. Now all the car rental agencies are inside the building. Sokkies’ bed, food and water are outside the Budget office. He comes and goes as he pleases. Who is entertaining who, here? The flight finally left around 10:30 pm. It was after midnight by the time we checked in to our hotel.

We spent 9 wonderful days in Kgalagadi. We were super lucky to see 6 different types of cats – leopard, lion, cheetah, African Wild Cat, caracal and Sokkies the airport cat. We saw brown hyena, eland, and the more common game of the area. We didn’t get stuck, and we had no problems with the vehicle. We have left with some good photos and even better memories. We didn't have a lot of sightings, but we certainly had quality sightings. It’s been great to be able to relive those 9 days and share memories with so many people. Thank you for all of your kind comments, I really looked forward to reading them. I hope you’ll join me on my “Memories of......Kruger – 2012” trip report which I’ll be starting soon.

Cheers.
Timbits


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