Skip to content

SANParks.org Forums

View unanswered posts | View active topics






Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  Page 1 of 1
 [ 5 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Foxes, Cheetahs and a Friendly Lion - KTP November 09
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:10 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:39 pm
Posts: 18
It is with real sadness that I sit down to write what will be my last trip report for a long while. We are going back to London after two and a half years of living in South Africa. During that time we have visited as many parks and reserves in South Africa as possible and have made 4 trips to the KTP.

And it was with real trepidation that we set off for our fourth and last trip. The previous three had been spectacular and we worried our expectations were too high and we would be disappointed. Difficult too, to explain to the two kids (now aged 7 and 4) that just because we were in the Kalahari it didn’t mean we would automatically see their checklist of lion, leopard, cheetah and all the other predators they could think of. “But we saw them last time” said the youngest. “And the time before that and even before that” added the eldest unhelpfully. My husband just wanted to see a black- maned lion cresting over a sand dune – not much of a tall order then !

But we needn’t have been so concerned. Despite a nightmare trip from Pretoria – youngest with gastro-enteritis, oldest with tonsillitis (all sorted thanks to antibiotics and a really kind GP in Kuruman) – we had barely been in the park for an hour when.....

Image

Image

Image

There were six in total, but the big male lay off to one side and didn’t move. I found out later that he was sick and was one of the lions in the park that people have been worried about. Indeed we saw two sick, very thin and probably dying lions whilst we were in the park. Couldn’t bear to photograph them. Hope the rangers find out what the problem is soon.

Anyway the group of five at the waterhole were in great shape and lounged around without a care until last light. They looked like big versions of our domestic cats, playing, licking, and lying on their backs with one leg stretched in the air. Sadly we had to turn and leave to get back to Twee Rivieren – that dune road really cuts the game viewing by an extra 20 minutes.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Foxes, Cheetahs and a Friendly Lion - KTP November 09
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:55 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:39 pm
Posts: 18
Our stay at Twee Rivieren was very mixed. On the one hand the game viewing was good. Meerkat, jackal and wildebeest were abundant and springbok herds in their hundreds filled the dried Auob riverbed.

Image

Image

Also thanks to the yellow ribbon on the car we met up with fellow forumites, Mybs and his wife and it was good to swap stories with them as we travelled through the park.

On the other hand, our chalet was covered in bat droppings (some congealed under the bed which clearly hadn’t been cleaned for weeks), had dodgy plumbing and the swimming pool was filthy. Kids were disappointed but at least the shop stocked ice-creams!

After three nights, we made our way north to the Kalahari Tented Camp and en route had the most amazing sightings. We had just left the dune road and were heading for Houmoed when we came across a Cape fox den with mother and young at play.

Image

Image

Then, after a pit stop at Auchterlonie and just short of Kamqua we saw a flash of something brown darting amongst a couple of ostrich. “It’s a cheetah” screamed my eldest. “Can we have Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ?” said the little one. It was a cheetah however and we watched awestruck as the parent ostrich tried to keep her away from the chicks. Then, in complete panic, one little chick darted across the road in front of us. As the mother ostrich tried to defend the remaining brood, the father ostrich raced after the chick followed just as quickly by the cheetah. The speed meant a lot of it was a blur but I hope you get some sense of what was happening from the photos.

Image

Image

Image

There then followed an incredible battle between the outraged and very puffed up male ostrich and the wily, cunning and very fast cheetah. No contest really but we were amazed at the fight put up by the ostrich. Eventually the cheetah just stopped, standing over her kill. The male ostrich made a few mock charges but then, I think realising that the chick was dead or about to be dead, gave up.

Image

The cheetah then picked up the chick in her mouth and carried it right back to the road. We watched dumbstruck, apart from the occasional “oh Tootles” from the backseat, as the cheetah sat down under a tree next to our car. We kept snapping with the camera. Wonderful. But then something dreadful. A contractor builder’s van from Mata-Mata came hurtling down the road and rounded the corner where we were at such a pace that he almost killed the cheetah and smashed into us. We all got such a fright and the cheetah grabbed her kill and moved into some thicket. Yes, we photographed the contractor’s vehicle registration and yes, we reported him to the head ranger when we got to Mata Mata. Apparently there have been a lot of speeding incidents along the Auob road, but where are the penalties for such speeding ? And wouldn’t it have been so dreadful if he had killed the cheetah? Bet my husband wouldn’t have been too pleased if he had written off our car as well.
Anyway after an angry exchange with the van driver, we sat and waited for the cheetah to move. A nice family from Capetown joined us as did a Namibian tour minibus. Mickey Mouse was replaced by Buzz Lightyear Star Command. We watched as the cheetah ate about half of the chick. Then she started mewing. Just like a domestic cat really. “She must be calling her babies”. An excited whisper reverberated through the small crowd. And sure enough, two cheetah cubs came across from the other side of the Auob river and were greeted by mum. Wary now of the traffic, she took the cubs to the far floor of the valley and let them devour the rest of the chick. Wow !

Image

Image

Image

We thought that was it. Day 3 and we had had the best sighting ever. Pikasso tells me that this was Lisette (Elena’s mum) and her cubs. We stopped for tea and biscuits at Kamqua picnic site and directed everyone to the sighting. By now it was close to 1030 and although at 24 degrees it wasn’t particularly hot, nothing much was moving. Or so we thought.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Foxes, Cheetahs and a Friendly Lion - KTP November 09
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:04 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:39 pm
Posts: 18
A couple of kilometres north of Urikaruus camp, right on the roadside and outside of their den, we saw hyena and their cubs.

Image

Image

We think she was trying to wean the cubs because they kept squealing at her and she kept digging then spraying sand over her nipples. Anyway it was amazing to see the cubs again because when we saw them in August, they were just tiny little black bundles that didn’t venture far from mum. This is what they looked like then and you can see how they've grown:

Image

And then off we went to the tented camp where everyone was so friendly and the boys burnt off a lot of pent up energy in the swimming pool (beautifully clean).

Image

Kalahari Tented Camp day two was our day for Spotted Eagle Owls and African Wild Cat. There were five owls in the big shepherd’s bush tree south of Sitsas, two adults and three fluffy babies.

Image

Image

Then we spotted wildcat at Dalkieth and just near to the road at Sitsas. We were amazed to see them as late as nine in the morning as we had let the kids set the pace and had never made a 0530 start. Apparently we missed a lot of lions at the 13th borehole because we hadn’t got up early enough. Also we kept bumping into Mybs (who was always first out of the gate !) and being shown his amazing sightings – without revealing anything, look out for his report as it will be stunning. And we also saw more cheetah - Elena and her cubs – a few hundred metres from Sitsas waterhole but hidden under a tree so no good photos. But even so we still felt we hadn’t done too badly.
Image

Image

Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Foxes, Cheetahs and a Friendly Lion - KTP November 09
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:59 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:39 pm
Posts: 18
Kalahari Tented to Nossob was next. What we had imagined would be a tortuous drive with much whining from the back seat actually worked really well. Owls again, a displaying Kori Bustard, bat eared foxes and bee eaters:

Image

Image

Image

Image

A black shouldered kite (I think ?) led us to the 14th borehole. Then kudu ! Just two of them and slightly nervous, waiting until the jackal had had his fill. Nice to see as we had only ever seen them on the Nossob side.

Image

Image

Image

Then a stand off between ostrich and a group of gemsbok who had wandered over to the waterhole. Amazed yet again at the bravery of ostrich and surprised that an animal as big as a gemsbok would turn tail and run.

Image

Image

But the gemsbok figured it out in the end and came around the front of the waterhole proving that there was plenty of room for all to drink.

Image

And then more ostrich – I was amazed at the number of chicks until someone told me that the adult ostriches actually steal other chicks to create a bigger number.

Image

The obligatory leg stretch at Kamqua and Dikbaardskolk, punctuated by a lovely male kudu on top of a sand dune.

Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Foxes, Cheetahs and a Friendly Lion - KTP November 09
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 8:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:39 pm
Posts: 18
Finally we arrived at Nossob. Lovely to be there and we met a great family from Durbanville at the swimming pool. The kids (theirs and ours) took it in turns to jump in to see who could make the biggest splash. Great to burn off energy but not too relaxing for the adults ! Anyway according to this family, lion had been walking just next to the fence the previous night so we got quite excited. But it was not to be. Nothing. Not even a roar. We got all the way up to Lijersdraai without even a pawprint in the sand. But we did see this juvenile PCG (?) eating a mouse snack, some red hartebeest and a big herd of wildebeest at Cubitje Quap.

Image
Image
Image

By the time we returned, the temperature was rising and even the jackal got right in to the waterhole to cool down.

Image

We had two nights at Nossob with very little game to spot. Both evenings we sat at the Marie se draai waterhole, with a lot of other cars, but nothing moved. We met Mybs again and saw some amazing stuff on his camera but I’m guessing that doesn’t count ! And we were envious of his journey up to Gharagab which, for us, will have to wait until the boys grow up. And so it was that we set off back for Twee Rivieren. Not disappointed exactly because we had seen so much on the Auob and because Nossob is always a great change of scenery but just resigned to the fact that this wasn’t our best trip there. And then....

Image

These two were about two hundred metres south of the camp just next to the road. You could even see them from the hide. Even my little one looked up from Madagascar 2. “Lion !” he yelled. “Lion. On my side ! Look !” So we looked and looked and then the lions, oblivious to the pandemonium that was breaking out inside the car, just flopped down next to the road and slept.
Image

Image

In fact it was to be our day for lions. We made the long journey south, stopping quickly at Dikbaardskold and Melkvlei

Image

and found another pride of four lions – mum with three sub adult males – lounging around under some trees at the intersection of the Kij Kij and lower dune road.

Image

Mum had a good scratch:

Image

We got back to Twee Rivieren. A better chalet this time although the pool was still not good. But ice-creams quickly restored morale. We were undecided as to whether we should go out that night. It was our last night in the park, we had already done a lot of driving and we had another long drive to our B&B at Sannieshof the next day. “Perhaps just to Samevloeiing ?” I suggested. It wasn’t far and we had seen leopard near there on our first trip. We got there via a beautiful “gemsbok on the dune” sighting.

Image

But there was nothing to be seen at all. “Push on a bit ?”. So we did and got as far as Monro. And we sat at the waterhole enjoying our last cold beer and biltong and watching as a jackal and a secretary bird came down to drink. It struck us that this was our very last game drive in the park for a number of years (have you seen the price of flights for four from the UK?!) and we just couldn’t bear to leave. Gates closed at 7.30 and it was nearly 6.45 with the dune road still to negotiate. There were three other cars at the waterhole and by now they had all turned to leave. “Better start the car” said my husband. We were the last ones in the park. I couldn’t speak. Could only nod. He turned the key in the engine. And then turned it off again. “Thank you, god” he said and I turned and looked east to where he was watching the horizon. There, cresting over the sand dune, in all his majesty, was our black-maned Kalahari lion.

Image

Image

Image

I’m not a big one for spirits and signs. Scottish Presbyterianism and motherhood has made me dour and cynical at the best of times. But if ever there was a moment to believe in something or someone special it was then. Of course, the gods were still playing with us because the light ws fading and the time was short. Our lion came right down to the riverbed and slowly started to walk the length from Monro to Houmoed. The clock was really ticking down now but this magnificent beast would not be hurried, nor would he turn around for a photocall on a whistle. It was his show and he was the star. And as the sun sank and the time nudged past 7.10 we knew that we had to leave. “Goodbye lion” called my youngest, torn from the Adventures of Noddy. But I think really it was the Kalahari saying goodbye to us. “I wanted to see him drink” complained my eldest. But I think we didn’t see him drink because you have to have something to look forward to the next time.

Image

Leaving was terrible. Like a punch to the solar plexus. There was complete silence, apart from a request for Tractor Tom, in the car. We have travelled all over southern Africa now and for me the Kgalagadi is absolutely the best. And I swear, as we went through the barrier towards the tarmac Upington road, I heard a voice, (those gods again), as soft as a whisper and as clear as a bell: “stay”.

Head won out over heart. Now in Capetown for two weeks from where we will set off for London. Going at completely the wrong time of year of course, with reports of the worst storms to hit Britain in decades and with an icy winter definitely on its way. But I’d just like to thank the forum for being what it is and for helping me enjoy a bit of the Kalahari from my living room. I’ll still log on in London and try to remember. And later, when we’ve earned a bit more money and the boys have grown up a bit, we’ll all come back to this truly beautiful part of Africa. Anyway, thanks again, deirdrej.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 5 posts ] 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Pumbaa, umtali1 and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

Webcams Highlights

Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by Jurie van Vuuren at 12:26:03 Submitted by Stampajane at 07:13:32 Submitted by Stampajane at 19:37:35 Submitted by ShapeShifter at 12:01:14