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 Post subject: mariek Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:03 pm 
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Day 1 in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

ImageWe’d taken our time getting to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, stopping over in Cape Town, Sutherland (to visit SALT) and Upington and we’d had lots of adventures along the way ... running out of petrol, making a 4 hour detour in the night courtesy of our sat nav and narrowly avoiding a head on collision with a speeding car. By the time we reached the entrance gate of Twee Rivieren our excitement and suspense had reached ridiculous levels and we could not wait to get in and explore the park.

Our excitement was short lived when we realised just how little time we had to make the journey to Nossob. We set off in haste, forgetting to deflate our tyres and proudly apply our yellow ribbon... but a quick detour back to Twee Rivieren remedied this. Through the maze of roadworks and incredibly corrugated roads we saw so many animals which we did not have time to stop and appreciate (bat eared foxes, a cape fox, curious jackals, secretary birds, eagles galore and wildebeest). As we pressed on, the road conditions got worse and worse. The 4x2 rattled and shook until I was convinced it’d fall to pieces. We had to slow to unimaginable speeds to control the vehicle and avoid it tipping, already aware that we had very limited time to make it to camp. The vibrations from the road were so intense that my SO took his wedding ring off to prevent blistering. My bones rattled and shook and I got bruises galore. It’s fair to say that we became more than a little disheartened - this trip was a dream trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and it was not a promising start.

ImageHowever, as we neared Nossob the roads improved slightly and we were able to stop and take stock of where we were and which roads we had left to travel. We spent a few minutes aside a very friendly black backed jackal who ran alongside the vehicle and regarded us with such curiosity. We felt our spirits lift - these are the encounters we’d travelled so far and so long to experience.

We arrived at camp exhausted but delighted to be there, and immediately grabbed a cold beer, checked out the sighting boards, scoured the trees for scops owls and set about lighting the braai. It was magical night - two jackals prowled around our braai - we couldn’t take our eyes off them for a minute otherwise they’d steal our steaks.

After dinner we grabbed an Amarula each and walked across the campsite to a clearing where we could stargaze. What I saw moved me to tears - the night sky was lit with thousands of diamond bright stars, it was simply breath-taking. We spent many an happy hour that night putting to practice identifying the constellations (as taught to us by astronomers in SALT) and spotting shooting stars. This was the Africa I fell in love with 10 years ago on honeymoon and I was thrilled to be back.


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:47 pm 
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Hi everyone - thanks for your lovely feedback and comments....you are right too, a rough start led to an incredible holiday! :P The night skies blew me away - I still dream of them now. I couldn't understand why we were the only two people in camp lying on our backs in the middle of no- where with huge grins on our faces. Any one residing in South Africans is so lucky to experience this whenever you want...anyone fancy trading places with us here in the UK?! :tongue: Our trip seriously caused us turmoil - between KTP and Kruger we are ready to pack our bags and move out there! :think:

To continue the trip report, here's the account of day 2 in this wonderful paradise...

We jumped out of bed way before the alarm went off, awoken by the smell of braais and excited by the promise of our first full day in the Kalahari. I quickly showered, brewed some strong black coffee, made some bacon sarnies for lunch and loaded the car with our camera gear, all the while unable to take my eyes off the perimeter fence, hoping to capture a glimpse of something.

ImageThermals on and fleeces zipped up, we headed out Nossob’s northern gate at first light eager to find big cats and birds of prey. We headed about 25 km to a picnic spot and, in the company of gemsbok, delved into our first ever bag of rusks, dunked in the strong coffee. We felt instantly at home. In the distance we heard the unmistakable roar of a lion - we waited around to see if they would materialise but their roars became increasingly more distant.

ImageDespite all the advice from forumites and all the pre-reading I conducted prior to the trip, I was still a little shocked at how hard it was to spot wildlife and how rare sightings were. Being used to Kenya and Kruger, I had set my expectations a little too high and on the first morning we’d seen little more than an eagle, springbok and jackal. This didn’t bother me too much though, because I quickly became happy with occasional sightings of tree climbing mice, ground squirrels, meerkats, mongoose rollers and bee eaters.

After a busy morning driving' around North Nossob we retired for lunch. I'd retreated into the kitchen to start preparing the food and was about to head out to the braai when I saw my husband frantically arm waving, asking me not to leave the building. I was very confused. We attempted to lip read and I, somehow, interpreted that a porcupine was outside the door... I lay flat on the floor and inched open the door, peering tentatively around it. There, on the patio, was a tiny scops owl. I'd been looking for them ever since we’d arrived and here he was, quite literally on my doorstep. We looked at each other eye to eye, neither one quite understanding nor expecting to see the other. I daren't breathe or move, I was close enough to almost touch him. It was an incredible encounter. Image

That afternoon we headed out of Nossob’s Southern gate to explore the nearby loops and waterholes. We were treated to sighting of gangly legged secretary birds hunting, colourful bee eaters frollicking on branches by the roadside and herds of springbok and ostrich. To our delight the roads had also been repaired, so the bone shaking was kept to a minimum which provided for a much better safari experience. Image

That evening we retired to the hide at Nossob with an Amarula to watch jackals and gemsbok at the waterhole and I knew we were falling in love with the Kalahari :k


Last edited by mariek on Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:51 pm 
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Thanks for the great feedback guys. It's fuelling me to keep sharing :)

Here's an account of Day 3 in KTP...


ImageWe headed out at first light fuelled by caffeine and rusks and headed out Nossob’s Northern Gate. Opposed to scouring the plains we decided to choose a spot by the riverbed and wait to see if anything would emerge. Our patience was rewarded with a distant sighting of a mother cheetah and 4 furry cubs. The cubs were independent and curious, frequently venturing away from their mother’s watchful eye to climb a dead tree branch or play fight with one another. They were the quintessential cubs - very fluffy, very playful and a handful for their mother. We tracked them until they disappeared out of view into the long grasses of the riverbed.

Over lunch we decided to change our plans and head over to Kalahari Tented Camp a night early, so we packed up the car and off we went. It was a beautiful drive and we were treated to stunning landscapes - rolling dunes and hilltop vistas of riverbeds.

ImageThe closer we got to camp the more the landscape opened, treating us to wide vistas with sightings of giraffes ambling across the Auob riverbed, bat eared foxes hunting for insects and from hilltop vantage points in the late afternoon sun we spotted another cheetah mother with 3 cubs on the hills opposite.
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Upon arriving at Kalahari Tented Camp at 6pm we set about unpacking and lighting the braai - scouring the riverbed at sunset for hyena (contrary to expectation none emerged during our entire stay). We popped on our thermals (it was -10 degrees) lit a fantastic braai and treated ourselves to the most incredibly tasty meal of boerewors and bbq’d butternut squash with garlic, spices and creamed sweet corn all washed down with cape red (recipe courtesy of fellow forumites). We loved it so much we had exactly the same meal again the following night. After dinner we settled into our (freezing cold) tent, both of us snuggling into the single bed by the window overlooking the riverbed with a hot chocolate and Amarula (again, thanks forumites!!) and fell contently to sleep. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:20 pm 
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Thanks everyone...here's my account of day 4 on our grand KTP adventure ...

Day 4 in KTP...

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The next day we were booked into the honeymoon tent at Kalahari Tented Camp (as a treat for our 10th wedding anniversary) so we packed the car at first light, grabbed our coffee and rusks and headed south to explore the surrounding area.

I’d been informed by the forumites that there was an old sociable weavers nest by the 14th borehole in which barn owls nested. I was unbelievably inpatient to get there and, was it not for my husband driving, I’d have headed straight there and ‘camped’ out all day.

ImageAs it was we had a very enjoyable morning meandering around the loops past the nearby waterholes, enjoying lots of close encounters with fearless springbok, eagles and gemsbok. We also tried a bit of tracking - scouring the sandy roads for cat prints - and struck lucky with a set of what we believed to be fresh leopard prints and scat on the approach to the 13th borehole. We waited around for an hour or two in the vicinity to see if there was any evidence that the leopard was still around. She wasn’t - at least not in a location we could see her.

We pressed onwards towards the 14th borehole with high hopes for our very first barn owl sighting...

The nest is actually on the left of the main road (as you are heading north to Mata Mata) at the southern junction to the loop road on which the 14th borehole is located. It’s very large and easy to spot once you know where to look but might be difficult to spot in the summer due to the overhanging branches. We pulled up, switched off the car engine and waited in silence, cameras and binoculars at the ready. The entrance to the nest was covered in fresh droppings so we knew someone was home or had visited recently. For now it would be a waiting game.

And wait we did...for hours. But to no avail. There was no sign of any activity or resident. Time pressed on and we reluctantly decided to head back north for lunch.

A few km’s on and we heard the most ear piercing and terrified scream - of which animal we had no idea. We slammed the brakes on and grabbed our binoculars - Ali took to the right hand side of the car - me the left. It was then we noticed three jackals on the hillside, but they could not account for the terrifying noise that ensued. We scanned the horizon looking for something else - something else was happening and we’d not yet pieced together the jigsaw.

Suddenly it all fell into place - on the hillside two adult bat eared foxes paced nervously, stopping to fix their gaze into the bushes behind the jackals every 30 seconds or so. The bushes were the source of the screams - a juvenile bat eared fox had been captured by the jackals and was being eaten alive. My eyes filled with tears as we watched - not because of the horrid scene unfolding before us (this is, after all, the circle of life), but because of the constant screaming of the baby fox and the relentlessness of its parents to give up the flight to retrieve it. The fox was brave to the very end and fought off the jackal family as long as its strength would allow it. As quickly as it had started it ended, and the ear piercing silence fell upon the bush once more - this is when we and the bat eared fox parents knew the end had come. The cub was dead and its suffering ended. As the parents turned to slowly walk away we also started our engine and left the cub in peace.

ImageThis whole episode threw me into turmoil - I thought jackals were scavengers. It never dawned on me that they are also fearless hunters. To think, I had entertained one around our braai in Nossob just nights before, as if it was a house dog. This is why I love Africa so much - it challenges your preconceptions and constantly forces you to reconsider your expectations about the natural world.

With hearts heavy and adrenaline pumping we set off back to camp to check in once more. However, a few kms on we spotted a few cars gathered by the roadside. Upon arrival they pointed out to us a cheetah feasting on a carcass in the distance. They’d not witnessed the kill - but judging by the state of the carcass it was more than a few hours old. We stayed for a while but decided to press on...familiar with cheetah’s eating habits we knew she wouldn't be going anywhere soon given how much meat was on the carcass and the heat of the afternoon sun. We therefore took a note of her location on our map and set the car’s trip-o-meter, vowing to return to her as late as possible in the afternoon when she might become active once more.

Return we did - about 4pm that afternoon. She was still there, sleeping by the, now stripped, carcass. Being only car present, we turned off our engine and waited. 40 minutes later we witnessed her sleepy eyes open and we sprung into action...cameras set up we waited and waited in the hope that she might walk towards us.

ImageSomeone up there was looking down on us with good fortune that day because she stretched and turned straight towards us. After a few tense minutes (will she / won’t she?!) she started to walk across the riverbed straight towards us. By now the golden hour was upon us and the landscape was cast in the most incredible gold hue. I heard myself whispering out-loud, willing the cheetah to step out of the occasional shadows into the incredible late afternoon light. Time and time again she obeyed. It was an incredible sighting - the light danced off the fine fur around her head and body, creating an almost angelic glow around her. She paused every now and again, but her progress towards us was otherwise steady and constant. Undeterred by our presence (and because no other cars arrived in the interim) she did not think twice about walking right up to, and by our car. You could see the dried blood around her face, contrasting against the glistening whilst teeth she bared every now and then. It was a rare and amazing encounter with a beautiful animal. One which I will remember for a lifetime.

That night sleep was impossible - the combination of the freezing cold and the adrenaline pumping from the day’s sightings meant we had a very broken sleep. However, a warm bath in the honeymoon tent (whilst wearing a wooly hat!) helped to calm me somewhat.

What a day!


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:19 pm 
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Thanks for all the comments everyone - I've just got back after a long weekend away and have been catching up on your comments and questions. I'll try and answer a few of them here...

Son godin and ann-marie - regarding the dove and the gabar goshawk, this was one of those shots that was a case of being in the right place at the right time. We were taking pictures the hawk as it flew up and down (it was very territorial around the 13th borehole) but had no idea we'd caught this shot until we got home. We thought it was scaring the doves off opposed to capturing them. As a result, I honestly have no idea if the dove survived.

Son godin - The cheetah at Nossob was literally about 5k from the Nossob Northern gate - they were heading north on the riverbed but we lost them after 1k or so due to the long grasses. It was a mother and 4 young cubs. We saw no more cats in the vicinity whilst we were there....I'd like to think they are the same ones.

Creasted Val - stay tuned ...my subsequent posts feature more owls and a few hints on where to spot them. One particular encounter will have you laughing when you hear the lengths I went too to spot these wonderful creatures :)

stelliegp123 - To answer your questions, I would say it's best never to compare Kruger and KTP, they are two very different encounters. Kruger is more plentiful and has much more of a variety of animals....KTP you have to work much harder to find the sightings but in a way, you appreciate them more when you do see animals. To be honest, I found the first few days in KTP really hard after being used to Kruger, but the longer you are there the more you grow to love the place. The solitude and the lack of tourists (it feels as if you have the place to yourself) is a experience you rarely receive in Kruger and the stillness is a gift. There are rarely any cars around sightings so you often have the experience to yourself. As a keen photographer I also found the sand a beautiful backdrop to photo against (vs the greenery of central and northern Kruger). However the one thing I did miss ever so much was elephants. If KTP had ellies it'd be perfect.
I love Kruger's accommodation, but KTP's blew me away. Killiekrankie is my most favourite place in the world to stay, and the KTP tented camp is also highly recommended.
June is a good time to visit - rarely busy but cold - ever so cold. Wrap up warm! However, the bonus of the wintertime is that you can see bat eared foxes during the day (they are normally nocturnal) and the grasses are lower affording you better sightings (especially if you are in a car).
I would sum it up by saying that Kruger is a haven for wildlife, and KTP is a full blown adventure! You'll love it!

Charbel, I understand anne-marie has offered some advice on the 14th borehole...it is certainly something that had me perplexed the first few days we were there (I had assumed that somehow the waterholes must be numbered)...on the KTP it's the one called Dertiende Boorgat See this map http://www.sanparks.org/images/parks/kg ... kmap08.jpg

Please do keep the questions and comments coming ...happy to help where I can! :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:29 pm 
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Here's my report from day 5 of our grand adventure in KTP.

This morning we headed off to Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp. We had been looking forward to this so much and, therefore, after stocking up on a few essentials at Mata Mata, we headed into the dunes with huge smiles on our faces.
Image

En-route we saw a herd of 17 giraffe, bat eared foxes, gemsbok, wildebeest and springbok, not to mention an array of beautiful birds of prey.

Of course it would have been rude not to stop off at borehole no.14 on the way to see if any of the barn owls were home, so I declared a breakfast stop and we feasted on bacon and chutney sandwiches outside the nest. This time we were a little bit lucky - someone was definitely home. Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of a wing as the owl stretched and preened, and we’d capture the occasional stolen glimpse of a beady little eye checking us out. It was more than enough to satisfy my owl-lust, so after an hour we pressed on southwards on the main road towards Twee Rivieren.

We arrived at Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp mid afternoon and could not wait to explore our accommodation. I barely got through the front door - thrilled by the lizards, grasshoppers and odd looking bugs gracing our doorstep. I grabbed my macro lens and set to work immediately.

ImageImage Image

Kieliekrankie is a wilderness camp of just 4 cabins perched atop the red dunes of the Kalahari. The wooden cabins are sensitively positioned to offer maximum privacy. We were in cabin 4 right at the edge of the camp and had a wonderful uninterrupted visa. Image Upon arrival we were informed that there were 4 lions resting on the dune opposite - the night previous they’d been at their most curious and had spent the evening trying to get into the bathroom of cabin three - tearing at the cabin’s canvas sides with their teeth. This was more than enough of a warning for me to stay well clear, so I parked myself firmly on the deck with a pair of binoculars not wishing to venture any closer.

We decided to spend the afternoon in camp to see if the lions would venture any closer. Deciding on an early braai we lit the logs, grabbed a beer and settled on the deck all eyes fixed on the dunes and the waterhole. It ended up being quite a quiet night in camp - but the highlight by far was when a beautiful barn owl landed right next to us on our deck after dinner and regarded us with such curiosity - we daren’t breathe or move and an obsession was born that very moment - for me to catch a barn owl on camera. :hmz: :D


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:20 pm 
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Hi all, here's my account of day 6 on our expedition in KTP.... I hope you enjoy it :gflower:

ImageWe woke early. Wrapped in blankets we headed out onto the deck to watch the sunrise with a coffee to see if any animals would visit the waterhole. It was quiet in camp, so after a beautiful sunrise we jumped into the car and headed out to the Auob riverbed and drove right by a pair of mating leopards. We could hardly believe our luck. We followed them from the dune road to the riverbed and back again as they meandered between the bushes and long grasses, ‘enjoying themselves’ ;) We were fortunate to spend an hour with them before they slunk off over the horizon.

With hearts pounding and wide smiles we set off to the riverbed once more, stopping dead in our tracks 10 minutes later when we spotted the unmistakable silhouette of two cheetahs high on the riverbank. Cast into shadow by the rising sun, the cheetahs were clearly on the prowl. Feeling lucky we decided there and then to take a gamble and we drove off in the direction the cheetahs were heading to find the closest herd of animals in the hope that the cheetahs would join us for breakfast later. We cracked open the thermos and enjoyed strong coffee and rusks surrounded by a herd of wildebeest and our patience paid off.

An hour later we saw two shadows on the top of the riverbank but we barely had time to register their presence before they took off at speed toward the herd, causing utter chaos and panic both inside our car and out. We scrambled for our cameras and threw ourselves towards our open windows to capture the moment. After a few seconds of chaos the cheetah locked onto one wildebeest and started to drive him away from the herd and straight towards us. Heart pounding in my ears, I took my eye away from the lens to see the cheetah running toward us at full speed and we realised she was not going to deter her path. My SO swore, I screamed and the wildebeest roared...the car filled with dust from the chase and for a second we could see nothing - we could only hear the panting of the cheetah by our side as she captured and suffocated the wildebeest right next to us. Absolutely incredible!

Image
Image
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We stayed for an hour or so, but then decided to take a leaf out of the cheetah’s book and we headed back to Kieliekrankie for lunch.

Fancying a daytime braai we lit the fire and set about cooking a nice steak sandwich.....big mistake! We very quickly became surrounded in all directions by sociable weavers who would not be deterred from stealing our toast. Resistance was futile - it was like a scene from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’. We packed up and headed indoors to the safety of our kitchen to enjoy our lunch, leaving in our wake a deck full of cheeky, chirping birds. Lesson learned :)

Mid-afternoon we headed back down to the riverbed to see the cheetahs once more. Rested and proudly displaying a swollen belly, both cheetahs were lounging by the roadside in the golden light, their faces bathed in dried blood. Image
I had never been so close to a cheetah before - they lay right next to our car and you could hear them pant, yawn and lick themselves clean. It was hard to recall them as fearless killing machines when they looked so much like large contented house cats. Image
Excited by the sighting we quickly lost track of time and dusk was falling...as ever, when we’re running a little short on time, we’ll see a range of fantastic sightings that we don’t have time to stop and appreciate, including a huge eland roadside, bat eared foxes hunting, meercats, mighty eagles and the most jaw dropping sunset.
Image

That night we settled on the deck with a Cape Red and our first ever Potjie, listening to the sounds of the African desert and watching our neighbours' flashlights dance off the dunes in search of lions. Delicious.


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:46 pm 
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Do you want to know what this is???

Looks like a Koringkriek to me, but I'm not very good with identifying insects....Armoured Ground Crickets!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:01 pm 
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aye, that was the one I was wondering about. Strangest little creature ever :)

Koringkriek sounds like a beer from Belgium :)
:D


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:36 pm 
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Thanks for the lovely comments everyone, it certainly was a day to remember.

Here's my penultimate trip report from KTP....Day 7 in this amazing park....

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Spurred on by the incredible sightings of recent days and the desire for more big cat sightings we headed out at first light back toward the Auob riverbed and promptly saw a wildcat dash into the long grasses. We hoped this was a sign of things to come, however sightings were minimal and the herds of previous days had moved on. We had to travel a considerable distance to find any springbok or wildebeest. What’s more - the carcass and some organs from the cheetah kill of the previous day was still there and largely untouched from how we’d seen it the night before. It seemed that even the scavengers had moved on.

Undeterred we pressed on and a short while later spotted the silhouette of a cat high on the riverbank. We lost her as quickly as we spotted her but we were determined to ‘hang in there’ and we scoured the horizon for any tell tale signs. We spotted two eland on the riverbank due north of us, their gazes transfixed on one location on the horizon. They did not move a muscle, simply stared, and stared and stared. We knew they’d spotted something that they were not comfortable with.
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Until now my gaze had been fixed on the horizon, but the unmistakable rasp of a springbok as an alarm call caused me to avert my gaze to the dry riverbed and onto a group of bushes which the bok had started to focus on. There, deep in the undergrowth was what I identified as a cheetah, crouched and ready to pounce. She made an attempt (somewhat half hearted) to pounce the bok but gave up as quickly as she started. Her cover broken she brazenly started to stalk across the riverbed - it was then I realised it was a leopard!

To my joy she started to run after a small bok on the ridge but her heart was not in it. All the while she was ‘flanked’ at a distance by a herd of about 20-30 spring bok who were determined not to flee to safety. We followed her progress for about an hour as she sent herds into a combination of mesmerized stares or utter panic, but no matter how close she got they did not run. Seemingly resigned to a breakfastless morning she eventually climbed into a tree and promptly fell asleep in perfect view by the Montrose waterhole. By this time she’d entered into the path of a wildebeest herd, and both them and the bok started to gather at the foot of the tree staring at her. They stood their ground as a conjoined herd, seemingly un-nerved and not flinching from her presence. One gemsbok even moved to stand right under the branch she was on, either clueless or seemingly for a closer look ...it soon thought better of it. We half expected (hoped!) for the leopard to leap from the tree at any moment, but she barely gave them a second glance as she relaxed on a low slung branch in the shade of the tree, legs and tail swinging happily. Once she’d fallen asleep for a while we realised she’d be there for a while and pressed on, vowing to return later to see if she’d emerge and feel hungry!

Later that day we headed over the dune road toward Kij Kij. It was the first time we travelled this road and we revelled in the stunning scenery. A couple of kms before the Tierkop waterhole I spotted a group of 4 lions - two male, two female sleeping on top of the red sand dune. I was thrilled - I was dying to see lions on the dunes and it was a great photo opportunity as the male lion opened his sleepy eyes and started to yawn and roll over. What’s more - we had the sighting totally to ourselves - no one stopped or came by the entire time we were there. Incredible!
Image However, the lions seemed very susceptible to our car engine - it disturbed them more so than any other animal, so we turned the ignition off and used the handbrake to roll and manoeuvre as required. They quickly became inactive once more in the heat of the day so we pressed on towards Twee.
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On our return journey we had a dilemma ...do we return to the leopard or lion - or try both? We opted for the leopard, but upon arrival at the tree she had slept in we saw nothing. With the leopard long gone, we decided to try our luck and see if we could make it back to the lions at the Tierkop waterhole. Luck was on our side and we arrived to find the lions waking from their slumber. We were treated to a display of yawns, ‘spooning,’ preening, romantic moments and prowling - all in the glorious golden light before sunset.
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That evening we ‘battled’ with a stunning lizard who’d infiltrated our cabin in an attempt to return him to the outside world. After much coaxing he’d exited, only to return in our kitchen an hour later via a secret entrance. Cheeky!

It was another incredible day in KTP.
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:45 pm 
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The time has come - here's my account of day 8 in KTP....our last full day in the park :shock:

It was inevitable that the day would be a bit of a write off, having been awake all night. I had become far too obsessed with the sheer amount of barn owls paying us a visit at Killiekrankie in the dead of the night and I had become attuned to hearing that all too familiar ‘chink’ of their claws as they landed on the fence around our cabin’s deck. With each landing I’d wake from my light slumber as if a baby was howling my name, and I’d leap for my camera and throw myself to the end of my bed to try and catch a shot through the huge picture windows of our cabin. With each attempt I’d hear my husband’s muffled laughs from under his bed covers as I got more and more frustrated with my failed attempts. Obsessed could not even begin describe my ambition to capture an image of a barn owl that evening.

Sharing my tales of woe with Jacques (the camp manager) the next morning he promptly smiled and beckoned me over to cabin two - there, bold and brass and in broad daylight were two barn owls sleeping on the water tanks. I didn’t know whether to cry with joy or despair - but either way I relished the moment to be so close to these incredible creatures.

It was all my hubby could do to drag me away from Kieliekrankie that day - and with heavy hearts (but feeling very privileged for our time there) - we checked out, vowing to return as soon as possible...heck, I’ll admit, we even discussed relocating :)

We were very aware that this was our last full day in the park and, wanting to make the most of every opportunity, we headed north to the 14th borehole in search of the nesting barn owls. Luck was not on our side, so we returned south towards Twee and en-route we picnicked at the Kamqua picnic site, spending every minute possible spotting wildlife. We were lucky enough to stumble upon some unusual behaviour from a bateleur who was on the Aoub riverbed, wings spread, seemingly heating his belly and underside of this wings in the afternoon sun. Such a comical sight!
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3-4 km north of the Montrose waterhole we stumbled upon the most amazing sighting - we found a family of curious barn owl chicks in a roadside tree! 4 chicks were huddled into a sociable weavers nest, taking it in turns to rotate position and peer into the outside world. One wee chick was particularly enamoured with a secretary bird prowling under their tree, so much so that I worried he might lean over so far that he’d ‘fall out’ of the tree and reveal their nest.
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That afternoon we saw an array of birds of prey - PCJs, Ospreys, Kites and Eagles appeared roadside from Monro to Houmoed, including a young gabar Goshawk who was determined to 'strut his stuff' for the ladies 8)
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We arrived at Twee later afternoon and quickly settled in - repacking for our drive to Tankwa Karoo the following day. We were visited by mongoose, huge bees and squirrels before heading over to the restaurant for a lovely meal (springbok pie is recommended) before our evening drive.
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We had initially booked on the midnight drive from Twee, but a combination of freezing temperatures and all encompassing tiredness after a week in the desert forced us to an earlier evening drive.. and we were not disappointed. Anna (our guide) was fantastic and treated us to our first ever sighting of the unsociable spring hare as well as sightings of bat eared foxes, cape fox, a wild cat and a large spotted eagle owl.
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We collapsed into bed that evening exhausted from the excitement of the evening, wishing we had just one more night in KTP.


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 6:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 1:07 pm
Posts: 62
That, folks, is the end of my KTP TR :cry: I only wish I would have been there for longer so I'd have more experiences to share :wink:

I've loved sharing it with you on the forums, it's helped me relive memories and kept my passion for Africa well and truly alive. Needless to say, we will be back to KTP, it has captured our hearts and our souls and it is one of the few places in the world that we hope to return too time and time again!

I thought it'd be a fitting end to share with you my top 5 experiences and some photos that didn't naturally 'fit' into the trip report.

My top 5 experiences:

1. Braiiing! I cannot communicate just how much it means to me (a 'city career' girl) to be able to stand in the open air, getting smoky, with hair unbrushed and feeling the sand brush against my face in the wind whilst making a fire and braaing. It's the real me, one few people see and one I have so little chance to embrace at the moment. It makes me feel alive, it reminds me that gadgets, gizmos and designer dresses are not the 'norm', that I am a nature lover who thrives on the great outdoors...and I am proud of it.

2. The cheetah chase....not because of what we saw (which was amazing!) but because we were 'brave enough' to take a risk and make a decision to leave a sighting to find the herd and see what would happened. It was a huge gamble and one that, thankfully, paid off :)

3. Killiekrankie camp - isolation and solitude at its best. The perfect mix of luxury and wilderness. The sunrises and sunsets tore my heart in two when I realised this was a limited time sighting, on that I would have to live without at the end of the holiday.

4. Finding the barn owls in the water tank at Killie. Not the 'idyllic' wildlife sighting, but I was so, so, so close to the bird I most admire and I was crying into the lens with joy. It was overwhelming to be so close to a dream sighting and for the owl to be so at ease with my presence.

5. This is going to sound really odd.....but to stand at the KTP entry point with one foot in Botswana and one in South Africa was surreal. I have always wanted to visit Botswana..the travel brochures and websites do a great job of making it sound like an impenetrable water world that's VERY expensive to navigate/ visit and impossible to visit on a self drive - and here I was, at a border post, with my right toes peeping into this country that had been on my wish list for many years!

This probably presents a very different view of the mariek that's written the TR to date, but I hope it communicates just how much I love being in Africa....despite being an amateur wildlife photographer, it's not only the wildlife sightings that keep me returning, it's the country too!

And what's next? ..... well, we've sold our house and are buying a place further from a city and closer to nature....the main criteria being I have a have a garden where I can braai daily :)

Here's a few photos that didn't 'fit' into the TR, but I thought you might like to see them...

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All these photos from KTP and more are also available on my website (TarajiBlue) http://photo.tarajiblue.com/all

I also have a blog on my website where I share this trip report, alongside other accounts of our adventures. http://www.tarajiblue.com/region/news/

:tongue:


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 Post subject: Re: Trip report - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, June 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:35 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 1:07 pm
Posts: 62
Thanks everyone for all the lovely feedback and support...I'll start working on my next trip report shortly :) In the meantime notes from my travels will be posted on my blog at http://www.tarajiblue.com/

See you all very soon
xx

:gflower:


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