Day 2: Twee Rivieren to Mata Mata
Despite not sleeping, I still got up for a 5:30 drive. A leopard had been spotted right outside the TR gate the last few mornings. Having never seen one before, I had to try. About 200 meters into the park I saw something. A leopard….tortoise. Not the cat I had hoped for but an awesome sighting, as I’d never seen one in the park before.
At Rooiputs, 2 male lions were fast asleep just feet from the road. A ranger flagged me down and said there were 6 lions on the road at Kij Kij. Here we go again. Sure enough, no lions at Kij Kij. On the way back, the lions at Rooiputs were still there, as well as a group of Secretary birds, two of which were fighting quite intensely by land, air and sea (okay, by ‘sea’ I mean waterhole, just wanted to be dramatic).
Just after Rooiputs, found a hyena walking in the riverbed in the same direction as me, so we travelled together for a while. In the same general area, I found a den of Cape Foxes. It was wonderful to watch them for a while. They’re definitely one of my KTP favourites.
Just before I got back to TR to pack up camp, I saw the only thing that actually made me gasp thus far. I later learned it to be a Kori Bustard (yeah I know it’s sad I didn’t know that…). Very impressive animal. I’m not a bird enthusiast, but that thing was enough to make me want to go out and buy the fattest bird book I could find and devote my life to identifying every bird I ever see (okay, slight exaggeration, but still, WOW).
Packed up camp at Twee Rivieren. Not prepared for the giant bugs under the tent, but I managed to stay calm (to an extent). Left for Mata Mata. Just as I was leaving the gate, a gorgeous juvenile Cape Cobra crossed the road in front of my. Lovely lemon yellow- a colour phase I’d not seen before. I had most wanted to see snakes on this trip, so that was incredible. It just kept getting better.
Spent a while watching the Meercats at Houmed. They were delightful and it felt like a very special sighting. Running around, standing up, the tiny meer-kittens perfectly imitating their elders. I felt bad for Peter Piper who had said he’d never seen a Meercat in KTP, and was beginning to suspect some kind of conspiracy.
Lions and lunch at Aucterlonie. Met a couple there who said that there were lions at the lower dune road. Headed that way. A mother had 2 cubs and a kill at the top of the ridge.
So… I don’t have binoculars. I’ve never been on a game drive without them, so I never even thought of them on this trip. I never thought to remember that I’m always with people who bring them- their own. This is why I’m a moose. I met the couple again at the lions and they very sweetly offered and passed theirs over to me.
The road was quiet until I came across what seemed to be a ‘mommy and me playgroup’, especially for springbok. There were dozens of moms and babies, some so small they were barely walking. A huge treat for me, as I’d never seen a baby springbok before. Spent quite a while with them.
At Mata Mata I set up camp. Or I tried. Was completely exhausted and I just put my tent on the ground and stared at it. Yes, I looked lost and helpless. It wasn’t long before a nice lady from Cape Town (who turned out to be a close neighbour back home) walked over with a hammer and asked if I needed help.
Signed up for the night drive. I’m not crazy about game drives. This stems from a bad experience in March. Game drives should be unpredictable, but you shouldn’t end up trapped under several feet of Chobe River. I vowed never again, but in the KTP, it’s the only way to see night critters. Plus, there’s not much water to drown in here.
There was that night though, as the wind and rain battered the truck almost causing me to drop the spot light on many occasions. It was wonderfully worth it. The usuals, (bat-eared fox, cape fox, wild cats, spring hare), were joined by two animals I’ve never had the privilege to see- Porcupine and Brown Hyena, both at Sitzas. The porcupine had a baby with it.
After the night drive, I faced my biggest challenge of the trip thus far- the bathroom. The bathroom door was closed and the outside walls covered in hundreds, even thousands of grasshoppers. Actually, ‘grasshopper’ is too cute for what this was- a plague of vicious, giant locusts. I felt like I was on some TV challenge show. “Now ALL you have to do to win, is run up, turn the handle, open the door and go in”. Couldn’t do it. Eventually another brave woman came wearing a thick winter jacket, wrapped tightly round her body and face (must mention it was above 30c at that point). I decided to do the same and went back for my jacket. We both made it into the bathroom eventually, but I’m not doing it again and my new rule is NO drinking water after 6pm.