Monday, October 17
Bitterpan to KTC
Today we drive the dune road out from Bitterpan. We'll be staying at the Kalahari Tented Camp. We've heard so much about this camp we are excited to be on our way. I notice tracks when I go out to the truck. Leopard! They are all over the camp. The set of tracks goes directly under our unit and comes out the other side. Oh, what the darkness hides.
It's not without little nervousness we pack the vehicle and head out by 6:30 with laundry for Mata Mata.
We come across a bat-eared fox hiding very conspicuously. I know the little fox thought it was being clever, but really, we can see you!
We see many steenboks along the way, gemsbok, ostriches, flocks of canaries, the funny backwards birds. We tick off ant-eating chat for our lists. Both the waterholes on the way are out of commission.
One of the many steenboks
Group of gemsbok
We find another pair of bat-eared foxes
These birds don't look right, plus they make some crazy sounds. We called them the backwards birds.
Northern black korhaan
We start heading down out of the dunes and we cross the Auob around 9:30 AM. There's definitely a change in the flora and fauna.
Lilac breasted roller
Swallow tailed bee eater
Janet spots a little head off in the distance. Definitely a cheetah. Yay, our first one. I still wouldn't say the area is teeming with them, but this is a good start. We mark the location and will return later.
We stop at Sitzas and agree this is a nice location. As we enjoy the shade, another vehicle pulls up and comments on our mirror, are those ribbons or is your mirror falling apart? we are asked. This turns out to be Lionspoon and SO. It is their first day in the park and they have already had a beautiful leopard sighting this morning. I am envious, they have the full time of their trip ahead and we are approaching the end. Good luck we say, as we go our separate ways. It was nice to meet you.
The springboks have been giving birth during October and we notice some really little ones.
This group of ostriches has appeared in numerous trip reports from others who visited during this timeframe. They were quite adult looking, but I think they were still a young family group. I took a lot of photos before I got all their heads up. Janet would say "now" and I'd click and miss. "Now", click and miss. You get the picture.
At KTC we are assigned #7. It is awesome, high on the hillside directly overlooking the waterhole. It is not at all what I expected from the pictures, but it is much better. Grootkolk was our favorite, KTC is my second. I've got to come back.
The kitchen is a separate unit from the tent.
Looking to the left from 7
We head out again around 2PM for our afternoon drive and to check the cheetah's location from earlier. We stop at Mata Mata for a few goods and meet Jacliz, a forumite who is staying in Mata Mata and heading to KTC to join a family group. Nice to meet you Jacliz, I hope you had wonderful sightings.
Jan and I are driving the roads enjoying everything when she stops and says what the heck? She's looking forward while I am looking to the side so I'm not paying attention up ahead. She pulls over to the right side of the road when I look ahead. There is a car driving towards us slowly, which I immediately see, then it occurs to me something is walking in front of the car. A lion!! We stay put and watch as the lion plods slowly along, closer and closer. I can't take pictures because he is in front of me (not supposed to lean out of the window you know), but I snap off one or two through the dirty windshield. Closer and closer and and he finally meets with our car and I notice Janet is pulling on my shirt, roll up your window!!! but I don't and watch as the old man scrapes along the side of our vehicle and under my (open) window, then on and off the road. I don't know if I was breathing, but it was a magnificent moment. The old man had seen better days, but I have to say he thrilled me and Jan.
Closer and closer
And then he moves off the road
We eventually see him again later in the day at Craig Lockhart where he had drawn quite a crowd. He was showing them how well he can sleep.
I love this area. There's a lot going on. We see our share of black-shouldered kites, young ones, mating ones. They are elegant with their red eyes and contrasting plumage.
Black-chested snake eagle
As we make our way back to camp we pass near the location of the cheetah Jan had seen before. We stop and admire a large herd of bokkies and willies.
Jan cries out, look and back on the other side of the riverbed she points out our cheetah carrying a small bokkie.
We can see her sitting and hear her calling. Soon, 2 young show up along with a jackal. The 2 young ones pounce and play with the bokkie while mom watches. All on the far side…
Very exciting but not what I would call a close encounter, like our lion encounter earlier. Wow. We come across 2 jackals hunting and jumping, very amusing but I could not photograph. We are back at camp just by 6. KTC is a great camp and we enjoyed our braii.
End of the day