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.
By the time we returned, the temperature was rising and even the jackal got right in to the waterhole to cool down.
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....
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.
In fact it was to be our day for lions. We made the long journey south, stopping quickly at Dikbaardskold and Melkvlei
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.
Mum had a good scratch:
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.
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.
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.
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.