Just back from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and a wonderful experience once again ! We took some friends who were going for the first time and I warned them not to expect too much.Now if that sounds a bit negative, just try to remember what you felt like after that long drive through the increasingly drier and hotter, unforgiving landscape from Upington. Not very inspiring to a newcomer from the city !!
Well, I could see the apprehension and disappointment in their eyes when we finally got to Twee Rivieren. Theo, who had been to Etosha in Namibia and loved it , told me he was trying his best to sell this place to his wife and kids, but I could see on their faces that he had a big job ahead !! Both families fortunately had some "toys" to keep their minds occupied - brand new Land Rovers and off-road caravans, bought just with this kind of adventure in mind !! I was just hoping that the Kgalagadi would give them the kind of welcome that I had on my first game drive 34 years ago.
The Kgalagadi didn't let me down ! On our first drive that afternoon we had some wonderful sightings...
What better introduction can one want than a majestic gemsbok on a dune in the late afternoon sun ?!!
But the Park was in a generous mood - a bigger surprise waited at Munro, the second waterhole. My heart started racing as we approached the water hole where four cars were already parked together - yes, four is a big crowd in the Kgalagadi - and I knew my friends were going to see something that would get them hooked. There she was - resting in the shade on the red dune .......there were seven, but we only saw five of them.
The mood in the camp was much better that evening !!
We were moving to Nossob the next day and started early on this long drive. We decided to go back on the Mata Mata road and then cross over to the Nossob side via the first dune road. It turned out to be a good decision. Got a glimpse of a lioness and three youngish cubs disappearing over the dune at the first water hole, "Houmoed". We helped a guy who was having car trouble, fully aware that the lions were probably watching us from the top of the dune !! We got the guy's car started and drove up to the lookout above the water hole, where people where waving frantically at us ! They confirmed what we expected - the lioness and cubs had been watching us !!
Next stop was Auchterlonie where we visited the pioneer museum. Can't imagine the hardships of those pioneering days !
The dune road was just beautiful - both the road surface and the scenery! It was the first time we travelled on this road - it didn't yet exist on our last visit and we were curious .... it was wonderful...
The small herd of gemsboks at Tierkop water hole was our best sighting on the dune road. We saw the windmill and decided to go left to the lookout above the water hole. I was concentrating on the road and only looked down when we got to the top. The scene almost took my breath away.............endless dunes all the way to the horizon and the gemsboks down below made it a memorable moment.
We got to Nossob in a good mood.
In my opinion Nossob is the type of camp that Satara in the Kruger is. Not the nicest place to stay, but the best for game viewing !! Marie se draai, the looped drive that goes to "Marie se Gat" water hole, can be compared to the famous S100 in the Kruger if you ask me.
Marie se Draai was our intended starter for the first morning at Nossob, whereafter we would have breakfast at the camp and then head north towards Unions End. We never went north - Marie se Draai took up most of our morning and we eventually had brunch, not breakfast !
It started with this kitty at Rooikop, the first water hole.
Then five cheetahs walking down from the dunes just before the turn-off to Marie se Draai. They all looked fully grown, so we presumed they were a mother and fully grown cubs and that they wouldn't be together much longer - must be time for the mother to send the youngsters off alone. Amazing that she could raise four cubs all by herself- or could it be two mothers and three cubs ? Unfortunately no photos - they were too far for our 300mm lens. Wish I had one of those bazookas !!
Next stop was "Marie se Gat" where we spent over an hour with this family of Cape Foxes...
The cubs were playing hide and seek in the number of holes that make up the den and mother looked relaxed. After a while there was a sudden change in her behaviour and she gave some sort of signal that made the cubs dive for the den. She saw something on the dune behind us and rushed past us. There was a stand off between her and another fox, which backed off after a while.
We drove on and took the loop back towards the main Twee Rivieren / Nossob road. Right on the intersection a thrilling sighting awaited us ...
The cubs were tired and the lioness lay down in the shade on the edge of the road. We were going to have them all to ourselves for quite a while. Later three other cars, our friends in their Land Rovers and another car stopped behind us. The occupants of the last car waved me on. Now what ? If I drive closer or past the sleeping lions, they might just get up and move further away into the shrubs and I'm sure those people would be the first to blame me for "chasing their lions away ". I stayed were I was - four metres from the lions - I wasn't blocking their view - the lions were on the edge of the road and the other cars were stacked away in such a way that they could all see. After a while I decided to risk it and started the car's engine and crawled past. They didn't move and eventually all the cars could have our "ring side seat ' for a few minutes at a time.
Further reports to follow tomorrow..