I use a Canon 40D with a 100-400 Canon L telephoto zoom lens and 1.4X teleconverter. Sunset was shot using a Canon 10-22 wide angle zoom lens. A Badger bean bag support in the vehicle and a tripod were also used.
Being a wildlife fanatic, I had wanted to visit the Kalahari Gemsbok Park which is now the KTP for almost as long as I can remember. Will not say how long that is as I would have to give my age away. I must say that the thought of driving 250kms on the old gravel road from Upington to Twee Rivieren was almost always enough to put off the trip for another couple of years.
As always the years go by a little quicker than we realise and it was not until June this year that a visit to the KTP was again considered. As I was recovering from a serious illness My Blog
, a visit to “the bush” sounded like really good medicine. I live close to Knysna in the southern Cape and as I had to be in Johannesburg during mid October, the KNP sprung to mind first of all. However, a visit to the KTP emerged as a far better plan. A quick call to SANParks reservations was made and I managed to get reservations for camping for 12 nights. I took what I could get and then spent weeks watching the SANParks website to make changes which gave me the camping accommodation as I wanted it. I planned to go on my own as my wife Margi had work commitments and joined me later for the last three days. However, good friends of mine joined me at the last moment and Margi still joined us later.
I think that one of the greatest things about getting to a place where one has never been before, is travelling roads where one has never been before. So, on 16 October the N14 was tackled. I had planned to stay at Spitskop, outside Upington, but on getting there at 3:30 pm we realised that there was enough time to push onto Twee Rivieren.
The next 12 days were absolutely amazing! The next day whilst driving the lower dune road to Nossob, I spotted my first 3 lions at Kij Gamies. I could not believe my luck. First day and I had already seen lion. This after many wonderful sitings of Springbok, Gemsbok, Jackal, Cape Cobra and many, many more. The days and nights that followed were filled with wonder and awe. The cacophony of the barking geckos around Nossob, punctuated with lions roaring and jackal calling was awesome. A night spent camping at Polentswa was fantastic. Not much game around but the silence and solitude was wonderful.
Early morning lion activity around Nossob one morning, had me making my way to the hide on my own at 4:30am in the pitch dark. Feeling a bit apprehensive at being alone, I was rewarded with an almost unbelievable siting of a beautiful black-maned lion drinking in the light from my torch at the waterhole in front of the hide
Travelling from Nossob to Mata-Mata brought sitings of more lions, raptors, and many, many more.
Over the next few days I was almost visually overloaded. I saw more lion, then cheetah, giraffe, spotted hyena, Cape fox, bat eared fox all sorts of birds and the ever attendant ground squirrels in the campsite.
I could not help but feel somewhat overawed by the majesty of the pride of lions that very cautiously came to drink at the Mata-Mata waterhole late one afternoon. They had also been there that morning, but I was not there then.
The crowning glory or cherry on the top had to be seeing the leopard at Houmoed. I spent almost 2 hours in the company of what I consider to be the most beautiful creature.
The roads in the KTP are horrendous! I felt really sorry for the couple of sedan cars that I saw being driven there. Hire cars or company cars I guess!
Was my visit the right medicine?? Absolutely. I feel truly blessed at spending such a wonderful time witnessing God’s creation. The beauty of this special place is difficult to describe. It was an absolute pleasure to be allowed the privilege of visiting the KTP. What a tough place this must have been to live in.
My next trip to KTP is already booked and paid for September 2010. We plan on seeing the flowers in Namaqualand, visiting the Richtersveld National Park, the Augrabies Falls and then the KTP. Cannot wait.