Having just returned from a fantastic 7 night trip to KTP, I thought to share with other mites an experience that not many have experienced. Please note that this thread is not intended to be a ‘brag thread’, but rather a shared experience that hopefully will give future visitors some confidence in knowing that SANPARKS do care and go all out to assist when needed.
On 26 Oct, my SO and I left Kielie-Krankie for an early morning drive towards Kamqua. We spent most of the morning along this route and then decided to take a drive towards Kij Kij along the South dune road. Whilst stopping off at the view point overlooking Kij Gamies waterhole, we observed an enormous male lion sleeping under a bush directly adjacent to the waterhole.
After observing him for a while, it was evident that he was not going anywhere and would possibly remain there for the rest of the day. We left and continued our game drive to Kij Kij and as it was still relatively early, we decide to take the loop along the new Rooiputs deviation towards Samevloeiing, Houmoed, Auchterlonie and back to Kielie-Krankie. When reaching the Kielie-Krankie turnoff at about 16h30 it was decided to return to Kij Gamies to see whether the lion was still there. Although having moved to another position, he was still fast asleep but after a short while, started moving to the waterhole for a drink. He then moved toward us and again laid down for another sleep. We observed him for a while and at about 17h30, decided to leave and return to Kielie-Krankie for an early braai as this was to be our last night there. This is where the fun began!
When attempting to reverse from our viewpoint, it soon became evident that we were in fact parked on very loose dune sand and even after applying the diff locks, the situation became more serious and with all our efforts to recover the vehicle, we ended up well and truly stuck. It was now nearing 18h00 and the chances of another vehicle passing that way would now be slim and unless someone did, we were stuck for the night. By this time, the lion had moved to a position about 25mts from us and was sitting watching us with much interest. With plenty of spare water, a couple of cushions and our jerseys, we made ourselves as comfortable as we could hoping, at least, to attract a passing vehicle in the morning. Within a short while, the lion started roaring and moved himself even closer to us. By sundown, he moved around us and could no longer be seen!! However, after a short while, he started roaring and from this we knew that he was now moving away. He continued roaring for ages and each time, further away. After settling down and at about 20h00, we observed a vehicle lights approaching afar off from the Kielie-Krankie direction. We switched on our emergency flashers knowing then that we had been found. We expected to be well and truly reprimanded for the trouble we had caused but to our relief, the two arriving Parks officials showed nothing but friendliness and empathy towards our situation (this may have been from them observing two wide eyed, seventy year old, red faces peering shamefully at them from the bakkie window)!! They told us that Willem had promptly reported our non arrival at Kielie-Krankie where after two search vehicles from Twee Rivieren were dispatched, one on the Nossob road and the other on the Mata Mata road. After assessing the situation and with the aid of our steel towrope and their 4 x 4 bakkie, they soon had us hooked up and out onto terra firma!! They even escorted us back to Kielie-Krankie and with a friendly wave headed back to Twee Rivieren. In the turmoil, we forgot to get their names but we did thank them personally and are forever grateful for their help.
Yes, we have learned many lessons from this experience and with hindsight the situation might have been preventable however, the real message to others is, SANPARKS KTP do take these situations seriously and go all out to search and rescue. After meeting and relating our experience with our “Kgalagadi Guru” a few days later, I pass on his advice which is “The roads or vehicle are not the problem in Kgalagadi, the real problem lies between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel”.
It is my intention to produce a TR to share the wonderful sightings from this KTP trip with others as soon as I have sorted out the photos taken and will include some from the above experience.
Incidently, the above waterhole is the same one that “Kgalagadi Guru” has, a few days after our experience, installed the research camera for this week. Read his encounter with lions there on the “Research Camera traps” for this week