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 Post subject: annied-First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:40 pm 
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Well, all packed and ready, we hit the long road to KTP on Saturday morning, 19 June. We took the Krugersdorp - Ventersdorp - Coligny - Sannieshof - Delareyville - Kuruman - Hotazel - Vanzylsrus route and, apart from a couple of detours and "stop & gos", the road was not too bad. We arrived at Vanzylsrus mid-afternoon, which thrilled SO as we could watch the Sharks/Bulls rugby match at 17:00.

The hotel is quite comfortable and quirky and the people very friendly. We were soon settled into our room (called "Dainty Delight" - whatever that means!) After a short rest, we set off to the pub for the Big Game.

That's when I thought I was entering a parallel universe, as the previously quiet pub was now teeming with men. Lots of men. Men dressed in camouflage gear and sporting mullets. Men with a strange look in their eyes. Hunters.

I quickly told SO not to shout for the Blue Bulls until he had ascertained who the manne in the bar were supporting. There were only two of us and LOTS of them. Plus they had GUNS.

Turns out they were all more interested the the game that followed (Cheetahs vs Stormers), so we could support my husband's beloved Blue Bulls. Not that it did much good, mind you, the Sharks still won *$@#$!!

Here's a pic of the artwork on the hotel walls (hopefully, if I've done the download thingy correctly!):

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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:55 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:42 am
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Well, after a hearty Vanzylsrus breakfast the following day, we set off on the long gravel road to KTP. Although the road was long and dusty, it was not too bad. In fact, it was very picturesque in places. But those farms are really far apart and isolated! Makes one wonder how young people ever find partners! :hmz:

I started getting very excited when we spotted the first sociable weaver nests near Askham.

We arrived at about 11:00, settled into very comfortable chalet and set off for our first game drive.

Our first sighting was a beautiful gemsbok. Out came the cameras, clicketty click. Little did we realise that there are many, many, many gemsbok in KTP! In fact, gemsbok are to the KTP what impala are to the KNP!

Still, here he is:

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A little bit further, this fellow slithered across the road (hey, isn't he a bit yellower than the normal puff adder?):

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We carried on driving up to Montrose and saw springbok:

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Red hartebees:

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Ground squirrel:

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An ostrich:

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A roller:

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A baby gemsbok:

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A daddy gemsbok:

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More to follow..... :)


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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:26 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:42 am
Posts: 15
Thanks, Wanderlust! You know, I put the yellow ribbon on the car but didn't see a single other ribbon in the park... :( I'm sure you are really looking forward to your trip and I hope the weather is a wee bit warmer by the time you go.

Okay.... apart from the odd ground squirrel image being on its head, this posting lark is getting easier! :lol:

Our animal sightings were far from over for the day and we also saw the following:

Kori bastard (oops.... busted, that should read "BUSTARD"!!) :redface: This is South Africa's largest flying bird and it stands over a metre tall:

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Also saw the first of many southern pale chanting goshawks. These birds normally perch on the top of shrubs and make beautiful photographic subjects:

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Then, as we made our way back to Twee Rivieren, we stopped near Samevloeiing and spotted this lovely lady, up high on a ridge. She had a cub (cubs) with her, but too far away to get a shot:

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Back at the camp, we started our braai fire and got chatting with our neighbours (Francois & Denise), a lovely couple from Villiersdorp in the Western Cape. We shared a bottle of tawny port with them and had an early night. A HUGE thumbs up :thumbs_up: to SA Parks Board for putting winter sheets on the beds.... thank you!!


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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:00 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:42 am
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20 June 2011: Well, we originally thought 07:30 was awfully late for the camp gates to open in the morning; but the sun really doesn't come up much before then at this time of the year anyway. Stopped off to see what was happening at Samevloeiing:

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Back on the Mata Mata road, stopping off at the museum at Auchterlonie for a quick squizz:

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Then over the dune road past Kielie Krankie. This name had my SO fascinated; he was so sure there had been a battle of Killicranky or a treaty of Killicranky or something. Can anyone shed some light? We were amazed at how different the dune roads were compared to driving along the dry Auob River bed. The animals seem to LOVE the dry riverbeds and not too many venture up the dunes. However, having said that, we did spot this lovely chap in a small shrub (I think he's a spotted eagle owl?):

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And another PCG:

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When we joined up with the Nossob River road, the sightings improved dramatically!

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Unfortunately, taken straight into the sun:

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Two big fellas locking horns:

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King of the dune:

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Picnic spot at Melkvlei:

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The springbok herds really mesmerise you when they start moving:

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Hello, who are these little critters?

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Stay tuned for scenes from the next episode of Survivor...


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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 11:30 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:42 am
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20 June - cont/...

I really love the names of some of the waterholes in KTP - Kij Gamies, Kij Kij, Gunong, Tierkop. Driving through the park, I remembered the 70's in Rhodesia, when our troops would laugh at the SADF camo (which was very "khaki" compared to the dark greens and browns of the Rhodie camo gear). When I looked at the surroundings, I realised that the joke was on the Rhodies, because the SADF camo colours were EXACTLY suited to this neck of the woods!

The sociable weaver nests in the park are of particular fascination. Hundreds of little birds building one HUGE nest - and each one knows exactly which hole is home! I guess these nests also provide food for all sorts of predators like the pygmy hawk, Cape Cobra and various raptors.

Here are some examples of the communal nests:

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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:42 am
Posts: 15
Question: That earlier photo that I marked as being a puff adder.... could that perhaps be a horn adder? :hmz:

21 June 2011:

Left Twee Rivieren to drive to Nossob. I was really looking forward to this, as people assured me that THIS was where all the lions roam! Does anyone know what is happening with the section of road between Leeudril and Kij Kij? The Parks Board staff who we spoke to seemed to think this road was never going to be reopened. :(

Anyway, for a change we decided to drive up the Mata Mata road as far as Kamqua this time, and then take the second dune road across to the Nossob road. Again, lots of activity along the dry river bed road, but once you hit the dune road, things quieten down quite significantly. A highlight for me was stopping at the various picnic spots. We had breakfast at Kamqua and then stopped for a comfort break at Dikbaardskolk. There are no fences, so you eat your boiled egg with one eye scanning the horizon for possible lurking predators! The grass was also quite long, which made it even more exciting.

A slow drive along Marie se Draai/Marie se Gat didn't reveal anything exciting and we were soon at Nossob Camp.

Nossob is such a lovely camp. Comfortable chalets, a great hide overlooking a waterhole and - best of all - millions of my favourite little ground squirrels! We ordered our "roosterbroodjies" from reception, unloaded our katundu, and went off in search of the Big Cats.

Nossob camp:

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Somewhere between Cubitje Quap & Kwang (there are those lovely names again!), we struck it lucky.

Hello.... what have we here?

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A lioness stalking a herd of wildebeest:

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They seem frozen?

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Ah, now they've woken up to the danger!

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She focuses and draws in closer:

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But was not successful today!

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Off she goes to join her sister:

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And they both glance around for a further opportunity:

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But I think she was too embarrassed and angry to pursue the matter:

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Driving home we saw this magnificent gemsbok:

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And this raptor (who can tell me what he is?):

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Also many black backed jackals:

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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:42 am
Posts: 15
This little jackal looked as though he might have had a sore eye:

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And this beautiful crimson-breasted shrike:

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As well as a few bat-eared foxes:

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That night, with tummies full of braaivleis and roosterbroodjies, we slept very well. SO says he heard lions roaring very loudly... but I heard nada.


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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:01 pm 
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Posts: 15
22 June 2011:

Today was the best day ever!! Left Nossob en route to Kalahari Tented Camp and, just near Marie se Draai/Marie se Gat, we notice a pride of about eight lionesses & cubs playing in the riverbed:

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We spent ages watching them cavorting. Suddenly my eyes were drawn a bit closer to the car, where this beautiful monster was hiding in the grass (very close to my side of the car):

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Meanwhile the youngsters were still up to their shenanigans:

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There were actually TWO males in the grass:

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Eventually he got up and walked away:

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Eeuuww.... don't know which end of the lion looks more dangerous:

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More tomorrow....!


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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:00 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:54 pm
Posts: 474
Location: Essex UK,too far from SA.
Hi annied,your SO is correct,there was a Battle of Killiecrankie.It took place in a pass of the same name in central Scotland(uk).In 1689 the Jacobites(scots) defeated William III's forces(the English) but lost their leader Viscount Dundee.SO and I visited the Pass of Killiecrankie many years ago,a very atmospheric place.
We will be in Kielie Krankie in september.This will be our first visit to KTP :dance: and we hope it will be just as atmospheric but for different reasons.
Enjoying your TR as it is just whetting our appetite.

Take care wherever you are.

Peregrine Falcon and DASSIEDELIGHT.

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We have no time to stand and stare.
(W.H.Davies)

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SEPTEMBER 2014
4/5 - Berg-en-Dal
6 - Skukuza
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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:25 am 
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Senior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Just catching up with your adventures annied, you had lots of luck with those lions! :mrgreen: And some very nice bird pix, your "mystery birdie" is a juvenile PCG 8)

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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:17 am 
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Thanks, forumites - you are a veritable fountain of knowledge! Arks - thanks for id'ing that juvenile PCG; when do they start getting lighter? Peregrine - thanks for the information on Killiecrankie; SO will be most relieved to know that he didn't imagine it all!

I forgot to mention a little *traveller's tip* yesterday. If you buy the rooster broodjies at Nossop, you must consume these on the day of purchase. The next day they are transformed into something completely different - so hard you need a hammer and chisel to break into them :lol:

Also forgot to mention *traveller's tip #2*. As a first time visitor to KTP, when you look at the map, you see there is a one-way road that leads from Nossob camp to Kalahari Tented Camp/Mata Mata. What nobody mentions, however, is that you can only use this route if you are staying over at Bitterpan :doh:

Anyway, when you are in the KTP (or any of our other wonderful national parks), you can't stay cross for long... so back to the trip report!

Once again stopped for breakfast at Dikbaardskolk en route to Urikaruus, where we spotted this lovely glossy starling:

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And this little fellow (help: is this a chat or a Marico fly catcher or what??):

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And a herd of resting red hartebeest:

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Then, across the dune road to join up with the Mata Mata road again. Just outside Urikaruus, we came upon the brown spotted hyena family (mom, dad and two pups). This little family seems to be very well-known; most people we spoke to had seen them. They were lovely:

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Wow, what a privilege!

Then we spotted this lovely cheetah, but she seemed in a big hurry:

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And the busy secretary bird, doing what secretaries do best (stomping feet):

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We finally got to Kalahari Tented Camp, jumped out of the car..... oh dear!!! :cry: Back right tyre flat, flat, flat. We were driving a Mercedes ML, which unfortunately does not have a proper spare wheel, only a "Marie biscuit". Luckily SO had brought a foot pump, so - with the help of the very kind and gracious camp staff :clap: , we managed to get the wheel to a state where we could at least drive the 3 km to Mata Mata to see what could be done. Well, we got to MM and put some air into the tyre, but the wall of the tyre had developed a big bubble.... not good news. At first hubby wanted to leave the park and head straight home, but I said (with some force): "Bugger that"! We still had three nights booked in the park; two at KTC and another at Mata Mata. After some discussion, we decided to spend the two nights at KTC and then try and swap the Mata Mata night for a night back at Twee Rivieren. Thanks again to the helpful staff (at MM this time), we managed to do this. We tried in vain to source a spare tyre by phone via Upington.... nada, niks, fokol.

Anyway, while hubby dear was doing all the phoning and tyre pumping, I took the opportunity to walk around Mata Mata (another BEAUTIFUL camp, people!!) with my camera.

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Swallow-tailed bee-eater:

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Hmmm.... scary looking koringkriek (mole cricket):

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White browed sparrow weaver:

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Familiar chat:

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Business concluded (as far as was possible), we headed back to Kalahari Tented Camp. All will be revealed in the next exciting instalment....


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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:14 am 
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Hello again. I must just wax lyrical about the Kalahari Tented Camp. It is absolutely magnificent. Unfenced, perched on the top of the sand dunes, overlooking a waterhole in the dry Auob River. The camp is relatively small - only 15 tents, I think - and is very peaceful and quiet. There is a lovely swimming pool too! The first warning you get from the camp staff is not to go wandering around after dark, because there are things that can eat you.... !

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And we had the cutest neighbours:

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Lilac-breasted roller:

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The first night in the camp was wonderful. It was warm enough to sit outside, enjoy a braai and be amazed by the starry skies above. The stars in KTP are brilliant! There was a slight breeze blowing, so we had to batten down all the tent flaps before retiring. Luckily the beds were again fitted with winter sheets - bliss. I cannot describe how wonderful it is to lie tucked up in bed and to hear all the animal noises from jackals, hyenas, owls, etc. just outside your tent. God bless Africa!

23 June 2011:

Did not venture too far from Mata Mata / KTC today, as we were a bit worried about the bubbly tire. Went for a short drive to Dalkeith borehole and spotted these two beauties coming towards us:

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Isn't she a beaut?

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And a secretary bird having a bath:

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Now what do you think happened here?

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It was absolutely FREEZING in the tent this night.... SO and I donned the entire contents of our suitcases and piled the bed with all available blankets, but we still froze. Noses right underneath the covers. Not getting up to go the loo until you really cannot hold out any longer. Brrrr!!!! I think the temperature was recorded as -6,5 degrees or something equally bizarre! Even the nocturnal beasties were quiet during the night...

Frost on the tent in the morning:

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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:45 am 
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Oops, forgot to share the sunset with you...

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24 June 2011:

Ah, where has the week gone? Can't believe it is almost time to head back home :cry:

First stop was back to Mata Mata to check on the progress of the bubbly tyre. I took the opportunity to take a few (well, actually, maybe more than a few) photos of my most darling little ground squirrels:

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Then it was off in the car for the long slow haul to Twee Rivieren, where we would be spending our last night.

A pair of black-backed jackals:

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A journey of giraffe near Mata Mata:

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And then, so exciting, this cheetah at the side of the road. He/she was unfortunately collared and, judging by the blood around the face, had just had a big meal, so was quite lazy. Even after waiting for about 30 mins, there was no move for it to get up:

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We got to TR late afternoon. The very kind people in the chalet next to us offered us their second hand ML tyre, but unfortunately the diameter was one inch out, so we couldn't use it.

We ate dinner in the restaurant that night (and very nice it was too :clap: ) and had a good sleep. Next morning we inflated the tyres and left very early, taking the tar road via Upington this time. What a LONG journey - 13 hours later we were at home. Luckily the tyre held out the whole way (way to go, Continental!!)

All in all, an absolutely wonderful and unforgettable experience. Definitely worth doing again, but maybe when the weather is a teeny bit warmer :)

Thanks for reading my report.


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 Post subject: Re: First trip to Kgalagadi - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:32 pm 
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Location: Bloemfontein (RSA)
Hi A

Your question - it is a Marico flycatcher. It is one of my favourite birds in the Kgalagadi as they do give you lots (and nice) of photo opportunities.

Great pictures and it looks like you were having "a ball in the park". KTC is one on my favourites but yes, I do agree, it was very cold even with our visit early in June.

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