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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:56 am 
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:D Thank you guys, your feedback is really important to me!

Well...it's off to another destination where mobile reception is non-existant. I will try to post tonight still and then only on the 9th again.

Kgalagadi (Continued)8 August

The fact that I am writing this, should be testimony that Ndoto survived Matopi. It was incredible to wake the next morning to hear nothing but birds. Yes…I did wake a few times during the night and heard the Pearl Spotted Owl calling, but the long trip and heat had me yearning for sleep much more than feeling fearful.

As I stepped down the ladder from the rooftop tent, partner silently handed me a small spade and toilet paper. “I’d rather not….” I replied. (Thinking that I heard too many stories of lions licking your “you know what” when busy with that famous veldie.) “Sooner or later then” partner replied and headed off to the privacy of the thorn trees with the very same tools he gentlemanly offered a few seconds back. I looked at the map and realized that we had to travel about a 120 kilometers before we would get to our next camp. I had a dilemma. I, the original bush woman who is generally fearless, but then, this was the Kgalagadi after all and the lions are huge. (Or so I was told…)

We reached Mabuasehube camp site after lunch time. The pan in front of the site was covered in yellow grass. Desolate, silent and breathtakingly beautiful. The vastness of Africa is indescribable at times, yet at the same token, Africa has powerful soul-capturing abilities. She is a sangoma with very strong medicine that has no cure except for willingly giving your heart to her. In return, you will learn to soar in the bluest of sky, you will have a blanket of stars at night and you will hear her constant whisper in your being when she shows you the magic of her ways.

On the northern side of the pan, vultures were bathing themselves. We took the road that skirt the edges and found another road that took us closer to them. A drinking hole! White-backed, Hooded and Lappet-faced vultures were stretching their wings to dry and preening themselves. Hmmm…where there’s vultures, there are sure to be carnivores of some kind, and when vultures bathe, it means that they had a meal quite recently… The presence of the meat-eaters was soon announced when we headed away from the pan into the direction of where we would camp for the night. Lion tracks. Moerse BIG lion tracks…

Lesholoago. Camp site KT-LOS-02. We had a luxury suite with a view of the pan and the water hole. Situated a few kilometers away from Mabuasehube and with one campsite across the pan on the eastern side, we were alone again. A-frame canopy, shower and longdrop, although this was an upgrade, as it had stone walls and a roof. (One you approach with a lot of noise and keep the door open when not occupied.) Guess what Ndoto did as soon as we parked? Gracefully walked to the toilet, knocked loudly on the door and opened the door whilst hiding behind it. Just in case the Kalahari lions have a propensity towards longdrops (and I believe they do sometimes…).

It was close to sunset when we settled down on our chairs close to the edge of the pan. A wonderfully cool G&T in hand, we watched Springbok coming across the pan towards the drinking hole for their evening drink. The straw-coloured grass looked like spun gold as the horizon started to colour into soft pastels with the flaming orange sun turning Camelthorns into burning bushes. Our fellow campers in the tree finished their last gossip of the day – Red billed Hornbills – were they discussing our antics whilst we had a freezing shower?

Night enfolded us, but somehow we did not notice. A dark blue horizon marked the trail of the sun where it fell off the earth, the stars started to gather in secret behind us. We were spellbound by the moment, the smell of earth, the sound of barking gecko’s and crickets and owls. With a sigh we collected our chairs and headed back to the A-frame to start with dinner underneath an endless black sky streaked with a million stars.

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:42 pm 
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Location: Slowveld
Here is the promised update! :D

Kgalagadi (Continued)
9 August

At some stage during the night I woke to the stereo sound of three different owls. They were very close. I contemplated to search for them with my torch and then thought the better of it. It was dark – the kind of darkness where you cannot see your hand a few centimeters away from you. What are the chances of seeing a lion snoozing underneath the stairs of the rooftop tent then, I deduced. It was really incredible, the inky darkness and the silence that became more and more pronounced by the calls of the owls.

In the Kalahari, you cannot sleep late. The sun does not allow laziness here. It was still cool when we carefully stepped down from the tent’s ladder after scanning for tracks. We lit the gas stove for a bit of a caffeine boost and decided to follow the example of the hornbills who were sunning themselves in the first rays. We waited and waited and waited, but the water did not boil. After a twenty minute wait, we realized that there was something wrong with our cooker – the valve was blocked! Two full gas bottles and nothing to boil our water with. After a bit of fiddling around, partner managed to get a small opening and a bit of heat came through. It took another half hour before the water started to boil. By that time we were packed and ready to go, but at least we had coffee and cold lamb chops, which to my mind, represents a fair breakfast in the bush.

We explored the other camps which we missed on our route the previous day. A good future reference for us as we decided that we will definitely return to do this route again. At Malatso drinking hole, we found a large herd of Eland together with Gemsbok and Springbok in the middle of the pan. They did not like our presence and galloped off in cloud of dust, but I was ecstatic to see these magnificent animals. Our next stop was at Khiding, another beautiful camp site that overlooks a smaller pan than the ones we had seen previously. Too soon we had to retrace our tracks of where we came from and leave this pristine wilderness behind. On our way back we had two more sightings of Eland, but they were really not comfortable with vehicles around and quickly disappeared from sight. Well, my wish list had one tick – the possibility of caracal or honey badger seemed so remote that I did not even give it a second thought.

I have given my view on “parks without borders” in my report on the Richtersveld, and this short trip into the Botswana section of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park brought me the same joy I felt in the Richtersveld. Reading through the history of how the Park started, and seeing the tangibles of many people’s vision, I felt privileged and proud to experience what has started as a unification of two parks almost ten years ago. The agreements were signed for a transfrontier park in 1999 and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park thus set the benchmark for quite a number of conservation areas that followed suit. From my human perspective, it was an ingenious decision. If I was an Eland, it was nothing much, just my birthright respected to roam freely over the red dunes without restriction of human borders…

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 10:35 am 
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Location: Slowveld
Kgalagadi (Continued)
10 August

Partner and I woke at the same time, sitting upright with a start. “What?” I whispered softly, as if anyone close-by would be disturbed. We were at a “tree-suite” for the night with the closest human beings in Nossob… “I am freezing!” partner announced loudly.

I need to backtrack a little as to the events of the previous night. Since we would be back in civilization the next day, we decided to make a big fire with our remaining wood. (We were not scared, we just wanted a lekka fire that would last long enough for us to finish our remainder of red wine as well…) It was a warm evening, or perhaps, so we thought as we sat close to the fire, or perhaps it was the cheer of the red wine that helped us not to notice that the temperature was dropping rapidly by the time we crawled into the rooftop tent. Did I just type “crawled” – it is an apt description of what we did. And since we decided that it was a wonderfully balmy evening, we only took one sleeping bag to the tent which we unzipped and used like as a comforter for the both of us. We also forgot to bring our overnight pack with us and only realized that once we were inside and zipped in. Not a problem, we were warm enough – no need for thick tracksuits and stuff…

It was about four in the morning when the effects of our bush party had worn off and the temperature must have hit a double digit number below zero. It was dark and quiet and the chattering of our teeth was the only sound audible. “Stop shaking and chattering!” I commanded. Partner looked at me with a hurt-puppy expression. How on earth could I expect that? “I hear lions!” I replied. The tent became dead silent and yes, from far off, the calling sounds of lions reached us. We HAD to get out to get warm stuff, but all of a sudden, the idea seemed a bit far fetched.

So it was Ndoto, the brave, that finally dashed from the tent and retrieved the overnight bag and a car blanket that kept us warm until the sun had risen. To tell the truth, it was a call of nature that did the trick rather and partner kept vigil with the torch. Need I say that the lions never reached our camp? But then, there is something about lions calling in the darkness that makes your brain stop working…

By the time we reached Nossob, two things were imminent; coffee and a hot shower to defrost our bodies. Since the valve of our cooker was on “slow-time”, we put the water on and headed for the camping site’s ablution. Bliss and cherries on top! It was the first time in four days that we felt warm water running over us and it felt good! Refreshed and much more cheerful after a cup of coffee, we headed back to Twee Rivieren where we would start our trip of the KTP’s South African side.

The resident Black-backed Jackal at Kij Kij water hole looked a bit peeved when we stopped to watch a mixed flock of Burchell’s and Namaqua Sandgrouse. We must have disturbed his well-planned strategy to catch one of these very jittery birds. I read something very interesting about the Namaqua Sandgrouse; the male has chest feathers which are fringed with fine hairs that absorbs and hold water like a sponge. The male will then fly at a speed of almost sixty kilometer per hour to the nest where the chicks will comb the water-carrying feathers with their beaks to quench their thirst.

A few kilometers from Rooiputs water hole, a slight movement caught my eye. I looked in disbelief as a Caracal lay in the shade of a small shrub. So it was at that moment that a stop was made that would become known as the “Caracal STOP”. Wishlist’s number two was still lazing by the time we had reversed and stood a mere few meters from it, but was not impressed by the long camera lens that protruded from the window and decided to head for the dunes where paparazzi could not follow.

Question was, as I followed the Caracal’s ascent on the dune, who was eaves-dropping when I made my wish-list a few nights ago not too far from where we now had this magnificent sighting. The Caracal stopped halfway up the dune and looked in our direction for a long time and then slinked away. “Oh wow!” I sighed. Partner looked at me with a broad smile. “Kalahari magic is getting to you…”

We confirmed our reservation at Twee Rivieren and headed out on the Mata Mata road. By now, partner was desperate to see a lion – after he had told his damsel so many stories of the famed kings of the desert. Our drive to Auchterlonie drinking hole yielded three lions – young males making their way down a dune to the riverbed. Our time to get back to camp was running out and so was available daylight to take a picture of my first Kalahari lion. As if by some magic whisper, one of the lions suddenly pounced down the sandy slope and came close enough for me to see its eyes. Two pools of bright amber looked at me, and then I realized, that even if this was a very young lion, its eyes already had a fire that burned right through my being.

Partner touched my leg and broke the spell. With a deep sigh he announced that it was getting late. Like a small child, I sighed my displeasure too, wanting to stay with my first Kalahari lion to hear the stories it told with its eyes…

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:12 pm 
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Location: Slowveld
Thank you for your feedback and encouragement all the time! I love to share every bit of news about what's happening in the Parks and also our experiences.

:redface: I thought that we would have 3G for the next number of days but on the day we arrived at Mokala, the contractors who are busy with the new picnic site, damaged the signal tower's cable. In the bush, things take time to repair, thus we were a bit out of touch again.

Herewith an updated report - the finale of our August trip. I did not include a lot of information as I knew that we had another trip coming up in November where I will give more details about the camps and so forth.

We left Kgalagadi three days ago and it was not an easy thing to do. I decided that I will "jump forward" with my diary and continue with our recent Kgalagadi trip, since my soul is running over with incredible memories of this Park.

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:46 pm 
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Kgalagadi August Finale

11 – 12 August

The camping site at Twee Rivieren was packed. Needless to mention that after the quiet solitude of having a campsite with no one in sight for many kilometers in Botswana, the hustle and bustle of so many people made us feel a bit bewildered. It was freezing cold and still dark when we woke. The inside of the tent had frozen again as it did the previous night, but at least civilization had some perks – we had electricity and when I made our bed the previous evening, I slipped the electric blanket underneath our sheet. This time we were well prepared for the winter-frost – two sleeping bags, four blankets, our beanies and of course the luxury of a heated mattress…

What would one call that peculiar little walk to the ablutions from the rooftop tent on an early winter’s morning? I am not sure, but it surely must have looked very comical. Luckily, I noticed, that partner and I were not the only ones who made careful shuffles across the camping ground. (And let me add, the shuffle is accompanied by a red nose from the cold that would put Rudolf to shame…). Once inside the warm ablutions, life takes on a different perspective – a bunch of women together can put any Sociable Weaver nest to shame with their early morning chirping. Much more cheered, I left the ablutions after a hot shower – ready to explore the road to Mata Mata and the Auob river.

It seems to me that it is customary that even if you are traveling in the direction of Mata Mata, the first stop must be at Samevloeiing water hole. This water hole is situated at the confluence of the Auob and Nossob rivers where the Nossob would continue on its meandering path to flow into the Molopo river. Black-winged Stilts would be our first sighting of the morning. Amazing! Water birds in the middle of a desert?

How different the landscape looked in the early morning light. We stopped at Auchterlonie picnic site for coffee and had a look at the restored farmhouse which is now a museum. There are several ruins of visible on the Mata Mata road, where one can see the kraals where sheep and goats were kept. After World War I, farmers were given land in exchange for taking care of the boreholes. Life could not have been easy for these farmers in the Kalahari Desert with its stark contrasts.

Our next sighting…Honey Badger with two Pale Chanting Goshawks in a frantic search for something underneath a Driedoring (three-thorned) bush. It was far away, but not too far to watch with binoc’s. Wish-list complete! The badger was digging furiously – sand going in all directions with PCG’s ducking and diving the spray. I once have seen a wildlife program about the Kalahari badgers and whilst watching this happen in front of my eyes, I got goose bumps, thinking that even the most impossible dream was realizing for me!

After watching the badger moving away further and further we reluctantly left, but did travel far when we encountered a family of Meerkat (Suricates) and this time we did not need binoc’s as they were going about their daily business close the vehicle without even giving us a second glance. Meerkat Manor in real life! (I’m sure by now you could have guessed what my favourite channel is…). After watching their antics for more than an hour, one bark had them disappear from sight as a PCG swooped over. We waited but nothing stirred.

Imagine my delight when we saw Giraffes drinking at Kamqua water hole. They suddenly looked HUGE after seeing only antelope, gazelle and wildebeest for the past days. I had this sneaky feeling that they considered themselves the queens of the desert, since partner told me that the lions do not mess with them at all. Their gait somewhat different to other giraffes, since they negotiate more sand and they are lighter in colour in comparison to the giraffes of Kruger.

After we had set up camp in Mata Mata, it was time to update diaries and download photos, but a strong wind kept blowing sand in all directions. Our canopy danced precariously in the gusts of sand. We ended up back in the vehicle, driving in the direction of Dalkeith water hole to wait for the wind to calm down. The late afternoon sun started to soften the harsh light of day and the landscape took on a new face. Two kilometers from the water hole, a lioness with three cubs walked over a sand dune. The cubs were romping on the red sand, but mom was on a mission. Every time they lagged behind, she would give a look over her shoulder and they would trot in a row to catch up with her. The landscape turned into a monochrome picture of blacks and golden hues. It was time for us to turn around, leaving the lioness and her cubs behind as they walked to the water hole for their evening drink.

After dinner as we settled down with a yummy Amarula coffee a very loud Hyena whoop pierced the silence. At the water hole in front of the camping site, two Spotted Hyenas were circling the fence. They were barely five meters away from us and we could clearly see them in the light of the game hide. Another stretched out whoop echoed down the Auob river. She was giving a clan call. My spirit followed her into the cold August night as she disappeared into the darkness to hunt in the dunes of the Kalahari…

It was still dark when the gravely call of the hyena woke me. Perhaps she passed by to let me know that she was still around and just maybe to return my spirit that had traveled with her into the darkness.

The camp was silent as I walked to the ablutions, except for a low rumbling noise that made me stop in my tracks. A low sound that could just be a growl. I listened carefully and then had to run for the safety of the ablutions before I burst into laughter. Stereo snoring from a couple of tents which I passed on my way!

We had to wait for the sun to warm up our rooftop tent a bit, since its frozen state made it very difficult to fold and tuck neatly into its cover. By now we had our “winter tent” routine to a pat. At some stage of the process, I hung on the frame like a Chimpanzee to get the fasteners together for partner to clip in, which obviously had us in stitches most of the time. Our morning laugh over we once more returned to Twee Rivieren, but a few surprises waited for us on our way.

Our first sighting of the morning in the vicinity of fourteenth water hole– the silhouette of two Cheetahs – mother and cub. They were too far off for me to take a decent photo, but I watched them with my binoc’s as they negotiated the dune’s crest in the early morning light. The mother was collared with a tracking device. After they disappeared, we moved on into the direction of thirteenth waterhole where we found another two cheetahs – two boys- on their way into the dunes after they had drink at the water hole. We found their tracks in road a while later when we arrived at thirteenth. Partner was elated – his wish list completed.

At Kamqua water hole, we decided to take the dune road in the direction of the Nossob River and then loop back on the second dune road from Kij Kij water hole back to the Auob road. I need to explain at this point that my hay fever was beyond red alert. Swollen, watery eyes and nose and a headache that followed me like a swarm of angry bees. I felt simply awful but clung onto each experience, for I could not allow that these precious moments be spoiled by anything.

Traveling on both river roads in the Park, I often wondered what lay in between, how it would feel like to travel in the dunes and to see what happens there. The dune road opened a new world, and although there were not such plentiful game as in the riverbeds, the mere fact that we were surrounded by the most beautiful vistas of dune fields, had me spellbound. Close to Vaalpan waterhole, I noticed a Black-backed Jackal and a dark figure in the dune grass – Honey badger! Talk about being blessed… In the quiet of the late morning, we could clearly hear its grumbling and see the spray of sand as it dug through the sand in search of a snack – with the BBJ tailing it for a spoil.

The picnic site at Dikbaardskolk was quiet – just the two of us having a coffee and sandwich. Close to our table lay the sun-bleached remainders of a lion kill. My eyes roamed the landscape. Sun dancing mercilessly on the white soil of the Nossob river and in the distance, Springbok became a watery mirage. I dissolved, my spirit was free. It became the endless blue sky, the wind that carried the red sand grains, the chanting of a goshawk and the rustle of winter-parched yellow grass on a desolate earth. There was so little complexity and yet so much mystery in the whisper of Mama Africa.

Our next Caracal STOP happened a few kilometers from Kransbrak water hole. A Caracal and African Wild Cat having a careful showdown… I sat thinking that my fever must have me hallucinating, but partner’s long lens and clicking away reassured me that what we were watching was real. A half an hour later we left – both cats disappeared over the dune, leaving us on the tip of our car seats as to what eventually happened where our eyes could not follow.

By late afternoon we reached the Auob river once more. A herd of Springbok was grazing in the river close to the road. “What are they eating?” I asked partner, as it seemed that there was nothing. It was only later when we looked at photographs that we noticed tiny blades of grass which was noticeable to the bare eye. The poor animals were sneezing as they delicately nibbled on unseen vegetation. Suddenly I felt much better, having the Springbok share my hay fever.

Back at Twee Rivieren we decided to spoil ourselves with a dinner at the restaurant. After a few days of not being able to talk to our family, a couple of phone calls ensued and also a chance to download e-mails again. We made camp, duly slipping our electric blanket underneath the sheets and switching it on to have a warm bed waiting for us when we returned from the restaurant.

A word of note; the restaurant at Twee Rivieren serves very very good food, but forget salad… (We were in the middle of the Kalahari after all…) Partner had venison pie (make sure to sample this when you visit) and I the Kalahari platter which consisted of pork, chicken and “skilpadjies” (tortoises). Before you all faint, “skilpadjies” is a local delicacy made of small pieces of lambs liver rolled in the netting fat that covers the stomach area. It must sound terrible, but it is really delicious and very rich. We had a divine chocolaty pudding and freshly brewed coffee to round off our meal. Feeling very spoiled, we walked back to the campsite where our cozy bed awaited us. My initiation of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was well celebrated.

Yet I struggled with this Park, at times it captured me completely and at times I felt at odds with it. It was not something I could define, it was something inside of me that kept on saying; when you fall deeply in love with something, it makes you feel scared as much as it elates you. Perhaps I was looking… as my heart was being stolen from right beneath my nose…

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:17 pm 
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Location: Slowveld
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Image

In my hands, I hold a universe
of life and abundance
death and want
the infinite cycle of life

Each grain of red sand holds;
fiery passion
lure and fascination
ancient wisdom
the trails of many seasons

It carries the forgotten songs of my people
as they sang
and danced on the dunes
their laughter captured forever
yet also their tears that spilled into the rivers

It has the soul of lions that hunt
the heartbeat of newly born lambs
secrets of the moon
mercilessness of the sun
the blessing of rain

Healing and gratitude
and time without end
as wide as the sky
with its millions of stars…

In my hands I hold a universe
do not search for me
for I will capture your soul
when your heart becomes
silent in my embrace

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:34 pm 
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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

31 October 2008

How time flies… I cannot believe how much has happened and how much we had traveled since we left Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in August. We were heading back – almost a déjà vu of our previous visit. Early morning through the now sapphire green vineyards of Kakamas and Keimoes. We were once more in Augrabies National Park to see the newly renovated chalets – which I will write about at a later stage. After shopping in Upington, we headed in the direction of the red dunes. It was hot – 40 degrees Celsius – and I was pleased that we had the airconditioner repaired prior to our trip, as it was working overtime.

The landscape was very much unchanged, the yellow grass which covered most of the dunes in August were starting to fall over, but as we traveled on, I realized that even if I had been on this road, there will always be something new. It was just a matter of looking with new eyes.

This time I was ready for Kgalagadi in more than one aspect. Armed with hay fever and allergy medication for starters. But this trip was different, my initiation was behind me and I read up on everything that fascinated me since our August trip. I even checked the moon phase – it was going to be full moon whilst we would be there.

“So….?” Partner asked, “what is your wish list looking like for this trip?” “It’s rather blank except for one thing…” I replied. A question spread over his face. “I want to see rain in the desert, thick, dark-blue rainclouds rolling over the Kgalagadi…” I answered his question. “And yours? He smiled. “As always…lions, cheetah and leopard…” I smiled back, hoping that his wishes will be granted.

With only eight kilometers of gravel road left to Twee Rivieren, our journey felt quite quick. A half an hour later, we had set up camp and headed eagerly in the direction of Samevloeiing water hole. Just outside the gate, partner pointed to a Springbok, which I could not see immediately, but rather a male lion walking in the direction of the Two Rivers waterhole on the Botswana side. “Uhmmm, I cannot see the springbok but I can see a lion…” I replied. Partner laughed out loud. “A lion…?...!” He thought I teased him until he shifted his view from the Springbok. The lion was on a mission to the water hole. The late afternoon sun turning everything in coppery hues, gave the lion an almost surreal aura. Welcome to the Kgalagadi he said with his shiny amber-yellow eyes and I felt excitement stir deep within my being…

At gate closing time, the boy was sitting right next to the fence, much to the predicament of the staff that had to lock up. We were inside with hearts yearning to be out there in the oncoming night. It was time for our first Kalahari braai under the stars and we consoled ourselves that tomorrow was another day…

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:20 pm 
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Thank you for your replies. A few days out of commission - sorry about that! :? Yes, the Kalahari now occupies the other half of my heart and writing about our time there has me nostalgic and full of longing...

Kgalagadi (November) Continued.

1 November

Late morning and twelve lions later we headed in the direction of Nossob. We did a “pyjama run” on the Auob River road and had a lion festival. First a young male, then a lioness with four cubs, a mating pair and a few paces on, another male with three females. In between these we were also fortunate to see a pair of Cape Foxes and three young ones. One can safely call it a breathless successful morning.

By the time we left for Nossob, it was incredibly hot, but we felt quite prepared – airconditioner worked and we had lots of cool refreshment… Not a lot of sightings on the way to Melkvlei, but we were contented and happy – the early morning’s sightings made up for the quiet road that met us. After a scrumptious breakfast of cold braai samies and cold juice, we were on our way again.

At Kameelsleep water hole, we noticed something new – flowers! The Driedorings (Three-thorns) were laden with pinkish-white flowers. Spring was approaching the desert in small patches. Fat-bellied springbok ewes were nibbling delicately on the blossoms, which brought me to my next wish – to see little springbok lambs running around in the Kalahari, although I knew that much more rain had to fall to sustain new life.

Merrily driving on in the thick sand, it felt as if the vehicle suddenly had a blow-out. We stopped and scanned the area…partner got out to check. He walked to the window to announce that we did not have flat tyre – it was worse. The vehicle’s spring had broken, but luckily the wheel was still in a position to turn. Our speed limit changed from 40 kilometers per hour to twenty. It was 45 degrees outside, thus the sand temperature must have been close to 60 or 70. About three kilometers onward, the engine cut out and there we stood once more. The fuel tank was overheating from the surface temperature because we were traveling too slowly. I deduced; we have a rooftop tent, water and food and in five hours the sun will set and cool down, that is if no one else passes us on the road. In the end, we were “rescued” and towed to Nossob. The longest four hours I had ever spent in a vehicle. We had no airconditioning and needles to say, my left-hand side of my body turned a beautiful nut-brown in the process. (Two-tone human…).

I kept on visualizing the cool water of the pool awaiting us in Nossob and that was exactly what I did once we were parked at the camping site. I jumped into the pool with my clothes on and just absorbed the cool water that swirled around my baked body.

It was dark when we finally settled down to look at the spectacular display of stars in the sky over Nossob. Our day held so many acts of kindness, the help we received with a broken vehicle to safely arrive at Nossob, the staff who received us like old friends and assured us that the necessary parts will be ordered first thing the Monday and also the friendly lions that did not present themselves at the moments when the car broke down…

As for sightings later in the day…I saw a number of Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters entering their nests in walls of the road, Ground Agama’s and a large variety of lizards and also striped mice. I was happy that nothing else presented, as it was impossible to stop…

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:47 am 
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Kgalagadi (November) Continued

2 November

Sunday morning, Nossob camp site.

Two more great things happened. Early morning we moved from the site where we slept to another site that has two huge shady trees. The coolness brought solace to our situation of being stuck without a vehicle. It was not that bad really, but for all intents and purposes, being in the KNP and not able to do an early morning drive, was not so good. Thus, sitting in the shade, I updated my journal until the next thing happened. Ground squirrels… Soon enough I was following them all over the grounds and the loss of driving out was forgotten. An hour or so of squirrel antics later had me humming an old Chipmunks song whilst I was fixing breakfast.

Just as we were settling in to carry on working, we were offered a lift by our guardian angels of the previous day. (Later on I said to partner that we must have moped something terrible…)

Imagine our joy and utter pleasure when we turned the bend at Marie’s Gat drinking hole and found sixteen lions scattered all over the place. They were resting after a huge meal – an Eland kill earlier in the morning. Not too many photo opportunities, as they were mostly hidden in the grass underneath the trees, but it was such privilege to be there and to see them as they lazed about with stuffed tummies.

Back at camp a couple of hours later, we decided that a swim was the only cure for the dry hot breeze that stole the coolness of the shade. Another 45 degree day tested the endurance of beings who dwell in the desert. I felt guilty when I dove into the cool water, knowing that water is so precious in this arid, desolate landscape. My thoughts still fresh in mind, a flock of Scaly-feathered Finches landed on the pool paving to drink from the splashed water. I watched them shamefully and yet at the same token, exhaled once more as the cold water soothed my parched body…

By late afternoon, we once again “hitched a ride” and were on our way to Marie’s Gat where we found the lions earlier. By now, the sun was behind the dune where they lay in the morning and the shade seemed to animate them somewhat. We parked and watched two cubs and their mum having a slow stretch in the middle of the road. Mum flopped over and the cubs decided to explore – giving the vehicle a sniff-down and then made eye contact with the passengers. Their eyes… what incredible eyes they have! I could see their mischief and pride at the same time. They will turn out to be magnificent Kalahari lions I thought as we continued to stare at each other. Soon the road started to become busier and busier as more people arrived for their late afternoon drive, but in the world of these desert lions, humans can wait. Something timeless hung in the air as a pride of lions did what lions do after a heavy Sunday meal. We turned around from the lion-roadblock and parked at the waterhole, hoping that soon their thirst would bring them there and it was not long before one of the two magnificent black-maned males came down the road in full majestic glorious gait. And stopped midway to plonk down in the road like a bag of vrot (rotten) potatoes. We were floored! And his expression of embarrassment just gave rise to another fit of laughter.

Dusk approached by the time we drove through the gates at Nossob. We had to tear ourselves away from the water hole, from a pride of lions and night that was approaching over the coppery red horizon. But then, there was the barking gecko’s, the White-faced owl and the peace of glowing embers in star-lit sky that awaited us at camp. (And a car part that would hopefully arrive by late Monday evening…)

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:40 am 
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@ Pumbaa: Well, I hope that your upcoming KTP trip will be blessed with many lion sightings - I am :mrgreen: in anticipation for you!

Thanks again for everyone's encouragement and comments - it really makes it pleasurable to share our experiences with you all!

KNP Nov'08 Continued

Note to 2 November;

The great yellow ribbon faux pas…

Whilst watching the lion pride at Marie’s Gat, a vehicle parked next to us with a young couple inside. As they were approaching, I noticed a yellow rope-like knot which could be misconstrued for an elaborate YR on the bulbar. Nice, I thought – these Forumites really want to be noticed… As they parked right next to where I was sitting, I greeted them and then proceeded to ask who they are on the Forum… They looked at me with complete blank faces. I am sure they thought that I was talking some kind of secret code language when I introduced myself as Ndoto. I retracted, explaining that I saw the yellow “ribbon” on the bulbar and thought that they were Forumites. “Uhmm…no…”, the flabbergasted young man explained, “it is not a yellow RIBBON, it is a rope to hold the bulbar in place, as it is starting to fall off…” (Need I have reminded the poor soul of this unfortunate mishap and secondly, I thought in my complete mortified :redface: state, insulted his yellow cord by calling it a yellow ribbon…) So we sat in embarrassed silence, whilst I suddenly clicked away on my camera like crazy…


3 & 4 November

Our Monday was spent with much anticipation at camp. We worked most of the early morning while it was still cool and by mid-afternoon, our bodies became wilted by a 42 degree temperature. We visited the pool again and watched the birds as they gratefully drank from the little puddles of water we made as we splashed. By now I had given up on my health conscious status and consumed beer shandies like a hardened rugby watcher. When I remarked on this, partner pointed out that hardened rugby watchers don’t drink shandies, especially not diluted with 60% Sprite. (Hmmm, I felt how my hips were growing in my bathing costume and raked my kikoi ever closer…)

Cooled down, we decided to visit the information center at Nossob’s reception where we spent almost two hours, reading up on the predators and their impact on the eco system. The displays of photographs together with information sheets on each of the animals renewed my respect for what I had come to witness in the Kgalagadi. I often wonder whether we realize how complex the conservation task is and under what difficult circumstances people work to preserve sanctuaries of life…

Monday evening came and found us in the bird hide where we watched wildebeest quench their thirst after a long trek down the dusty Nossob river. We eagerly watched the gate for any sign of something bigger than a Hummer, but hunger finally had us heading back to camp. We fell asleep to the sound of Black-backed Jackals calling in stereo.

Tuesday broke gloriously in the east. We scampered out of the tent, hopeful that somewhere during the night, the truck from Twee Rivieren had arrived with the much coveted part for our vehicle. The technician – Albert – said that it would take at the most two hours to repair, which meant that we could leave at about 10:00 with enough time to Matopi. (Yes, you guessed correctly – we were on our way to Mabuasehube again!).

Partner returned with a long face. The part was not picked up in Upington and we had to wait another day. Our planned trip to the Botswana side was hanging in the scale and we were starting to feel anxious. Our work at Nossob was done according to our schedule and another day in camp…was starting to drive us crazy. So I decided to do what most crazy women do when they have jitters. I did a load of washing by hand…! I repacked and organized our supply and equipment crates and in the process, threw out a couple of crafty glossy starlings and ground squirrels who decided to “help” me. The picture of complete and utter African domestic bliss…

By late afternoon we had a splash in the pool and returned to freshly baked roosterkoek (a bread which is slowly baked over coals – these are freshly made on order by the women of Nossob). Roosterkoek dripping with butter and a beer shandie in hand, I leaned back in my camping chair and sighed, thinking that perhaps Mama Africa delayed us to prepare something spectacular…

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:21 pm 
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KTP Nov'08 Continued

5 November

We woke early – before the sky had a chance to turn pale. The camp was silent, thus we resorted to whispering. If we were to be delayed another day, we had to give up our planned trip to the Botswana side. We decided that the repair of our vehicle was more important, since we still had a number of days left in KNP. So the whispered conversation went until we had a “knock” on our vehicle’s bonnet. It was Albert who came to report that the truck driver had just radioed in and that they would be arriving at about 09:00 in Nossob with the part. We were elated.

By noon, we were packed and ready to leave. Partner had a badly injured index finger from assisting with the repairs. After struggling with the new part for what seemed like ages to me as I waited in the shade of our camp site’s trees, partner returned with a vehicle that “walked proudly” with a new SPRING in its step. We bandaged the bleeding and badly swollen finger and set off in the direction of Mabuasehube. We decided that we would head to Lesholoago where we were booked for our second night since our Matopi overnight was spent in Nossob waiting for a car part.

Another 45 degrees day presented itself, but we were “old hat” with the dune road and estimated that we would arrive at our destination round about 17:30. That would still give us enough daylight to set up camp, check for tracks and see the sun set over the pan. In our excitement we forgot something vital – our fuel supply from an overheating tank that played up on the way to Nossob…

Fifty kilometers into the trail we had our first hiccup from the vehicle. It started spurting and loosing power. We carried on until we found a tree with enough shade to cool down. After twenty precious minutes, we switched on the engine and all seemed fine. We deduced that it was just a thick patch of sand in the road that caused it. By now we were almost 70 kilometers into the trail and at stage we had decide to turn around or carry on to Matopi to sleep over and return the next day to Nossob to have the problem seen to. Partner got that far-away look in his eye which told me he was doing his Einstein thoughts. He stopped underneath a shady tree and asked for a cold beer and a dish cloth. I frowned. He just smiled and said; “And also look for lions and stuff while I’m busy with the engine…” So he did something with the dishcloth in the engine and drank the beer while we waited another precious half an hour.

I looked at the sky as we were traveling deeper into the Botswana section of the Park. Huge cauliflower clouds started to gather on the horizon and the wind pushed into the direction we were traveling. Our going was slow, as the sand was thick and very loose, but at least the intervals of stopping and waiting for the engine to cool down became less frequent. Partner made a small modification with the dishcloth that cooled down the supply to the petrol pump. It is good to have an engineer on your side when you are traveling in Africa…

By the time we arrived at Matopi, things had cooled down rapidly – a preceding shower of welcome rain left traces in the sand. We could smell the rain but it was running ahead of us – cooling the road to make our passage safe. We did a quick calculation and worked out that we would still make it on time to our destination– perhaps an hour later, but we were comfortable with that.

That was before our path crossed with herds of Gemsbok and newly born calves, a Gaint Eagle Owl that sat close to the road and looked at us with sleepy eyes, or the Caracal that sat in the yellow grass and allowed partner enough time to take good pictures… Then a sunset with huge pink candy-floss clouds, a dark indigo blue brooding African storm on the horizon and the sun that sailed over the horizon like a shimmering cauldron of molten copper… We were running late but sometimes one knows that God paints certain pictures only once and only for you at a given moment.

We arrived at Bosobogolo camp site after dark. It was empty. We had another hour left of traveling to reach our destination, but we were dead on our feet after a day that stretched our limits. We decided to wait for a half an hour before we set up camp, just in case some else arrived, but by 20:00 we were quite sure that no one was heading our way. We quietly erected our rooftop tent and had a quick bite. Darkness enfolded us and on the horizon across the pan, we watched the first summer rain dance across the earth in big shafts of bright yellow lightning…

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:49 pm 
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Thank you for your comments! :) A few days of spending time with our family (after not seeing them for many months) was hectic. So many things to tell and talk about! :) We are settling in for the Festive period, so I will be posting regularly again.

KNP Nov'08 continued

6 November

The smell of rain was carried by the northern wind. There was a brooding silence that hung thickly in the air at first light. A few barking gecko’s broke the quiet with intermittent calls. I lay quietly in the tent, merely absorbing each feeling; the emotion of being somewhere in one of Africa’s wildest spaces.

While we were preparing breakfast, life started to stir on the pan in front of our camping site – springbok, wildebeest, gemsbok, ostrich and a Cori Bustard in display. A new sighting for both of us which we enjoyed immensely. His neck feathers all puffed up, he strutted across the pan – a mixture between peacock and turkey. We certainly did not notice a lucky lady – perhaps she was hiding, or perhaps it was the cool, moist weather that just went straight to his head…

We decided to explore all the pans once again, as we did on our previous visit. It was winter then, but now, summer was making her presence known in splashes of green and delicate bunches of desert flowers. The intense heat of the previous day was somewhat subdued which helped greatly with the fuel supply problem we have been experiencing the past days.

Our first stop was at Mpayathutla pan – it was quiet, except for tracks – yes, we found them once again – BIG lion tracks that headed in the direction of Khiding (where we would be sleeping that night…). We decided to follow the spoor just in case we needed to psych ourselves for later in the day. (Stupid thing to do really, as I already started to deduce again; if we are in the rooftop tent with enough to eat and drink…what happens if…) The what-if’s never presented, as the spoor disappeared into the veld three kilometers onward, but there is always that sense that hovers between wishful thinking and reality. (Yes, that lion encounter one day fills me with equal amounts of excitement and fear…) But for now, we decided that the spoor must be planted by the Botswana rangers in order to keep visitors at their camp sites at night…

At Khiding a picture of abundance awaited us – a large herd of springbok and gemsbok were grazing in the pan. The vegetation had become lush and green. The camp site’s trees had inviting dark shade. We were pleased with our choice, knowing that even though there was no water, we had a little oasis waiting for us when we return later in the afternoon.

We headed to Mabuasehube pan after inspecting our lodgings for the night. As we turned into the road that circumvents the pan, we noticed the tracks once again – and this time, there were signs of play – all the way to the drinking hole. The whole pan was deserted, save for one solitary gemsbok that looked intently at something on the horizon. My thoughts worked overtime - Khiding was smack bang in the centre of all these lion tracks – an average of 11 kilometers away from both pans… As we turned the bend, we did not notice any campers, thus, we discussed that if there was water at Mabu’s showers, we would have good soak there. Farthest from our thoughts were three lions awaiting us as they comfortably lazed in the shade of the A-frame of site number three…

Did we shower? Yes. At the next site, three kilometers away. It was one of the most exhilarating showers I have ever had in my life! Strange to think that the coolness of the water was so refreshing in comparison to the heart-stopping shower we had in August. Perhaps I did not feel much of the water temperature in any case, as I kept on asking partner whether he is keeping a good lookout. As I washed the shampoo out of my hair, I kept on thinking those “what if” thoughts and knew that we were vulnerable beyond words – not even my shaky plan B (to climb onto the shower frame) would have survived one klap from that lioness if we were to be kitty breakfast.

After we cleaned up nicely, and looked much more presentable, we returned to where we had found the lions. They were still there, and very obviously parked for the day. When we made our booking for the Botswana side, it was a toss-up between Khiding and Mabu’ – I now wonder what we would have done if we had to negotiate a double booking with three lions.

We returned to Khiding by late afternoon after a day filled with incredible sightings. Kalahari tent tortoise, Bateleur, Black Backed Jackal, Cori Bustard, Meercat, Yellow mongoose, Slender mongoose, springbok, kudu and gemsbok.

The sun started to prepare for dusk across the pan. Dark clouds gathered on the horizon, another storm was brewing far off again. Sunset lasted for almost two hours – we sat and watched a live painting that changed by the second, each colour more brilliant than the one before.

Then finally, darkness came and the landscape changed into a mysterious woman in a black dress. We could smell her fragrance, see her glittering jewels on her cape, feel her warmth and hear her song of night – she was neither here nor there. This woman who’s name is Africa…

Dinner became quite a bush cook-up. Roasted brinjal, butternut and honey and thickly cut lamb chops. After we washed up, I sat contentedly, thinking that if I am to be kitty dinner, at least my last meal was a good one – which still needed a good rounding of Amarula coffee… While I was waiting for the water to boil, partner presented me with a barking gecko (just like a little boy with a frog in his pocket…) and indeed, it is one of the cutest little reptiles I had seen – all 8 centimeters of it.

Somewhere in the night, my wish for the Kalahari manifested…A summer storm hit us in full force and although we were dry and snug inside our tent, I wondered whether it was a matter of time before we would become airborne. The wind rocked and swirled around us and huge raindrops hit the tent with force. I looked through the flap on my side into the darkness that was pierced by bolts of lightning every few seconds to see trees and bush lit up in ghostly light. I unzipped the tent door slightly and put my hands out to feel the icy water splash on them. “Thank you…” I whispered into the darkness.

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:44 pm 
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Thank you Pumbaa and Ingrid! Indeed these lions were amazing - I am quite sure that they are very comfortable around humans, although the lioness had a fierceness and intensity about her that was very intimidating. I love the expression on her face, actually all three of them were good studies.

The lioness and one young male were underneath the A-frame and the other boy a few meters away in the shade of a tree and they were not budging. I think anyone who had that camp site for the night had a slight problem.... :big_eyes:

And by the way, we believe now the rangers do not "plant" tracks to keep people at the camp sites.... :wink:

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“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:13 am 
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:D Thanks LP and BillyF - it is an honour to be able to bring pleasure in sharing our experiences!

KNP Nov'08 Continued

7 November

The wild dance of summer rain left us when the first grey of dawn broke on the horizon. The earth was drenched, layers of desert sand cooled down and all around life was singing a song of gratitude. In the dim light of daybreak, we noticed that the pan has filled up with more animals – red hartebeest, more springbok and gemsbok and wildebeest. And a lot of jackals…making a huge racket.

Partner stopped in his tracks where he was loading the last odds and ends into the vehicle and asked for the binoculars. He looked for a while and then rushed to me where I filled our flask with hot water – “Look”, he said, “I am sure there are two cheetah’s behind the wildebeest!” I looked and noticed two yellow patches in the grass and then behind them, two cats, but the legs were too short for cheetah. It was leopard.

Suddenly our leisurely pace became frenzied and we literally threw the remainder of our stuff into the back of the vehicle. Luckily we packed away almost everything the previous night as we thought that there was a possibility of a storm. We rushed off to the opposite side of the pan where we had seen the leopards.

Upon arrival, a picture of ten or so jackal mobbing a young female leopard and a four month old cub met us. She was extremely nervous, torn between the safety of her cub and her kill. Here is the perplexing thing – she had killed TWO springbok! Both carcasses were lying within a meter from each other. One springbok had quite a chunk eaten from its loin but the other one was hardly touched – just a little opening in the belly where the soft intestines were pulled out and blood was still running freely – which meant that this animal was killed not too long ago. The jackals closed in on the leopard, and she started to retreat with the young cub in tow. Within a few minutes, she disappeared, opting for safety rather than risking confrontation with a pack of crazed jackal. I felt so sorry for her, there were no trees in the immediate vicinity of the pan large enough to carry her kill to safety. What a brave attempt to kill in the open plains with a small cub. At least she had a bit to eat…

Then followed a complete anti-climax. The jackals left with her! I sat and stared at the two dead springbok in astonishment. Bloody stupid jackals, I thought to myself, what was their plan in all of this? We decided to wait a while to see if perhaps the leopard would return. Out with the coffee since we missed out on our morning boost. As we were dipping our rusks, partner caught movement from opposite the pan at the camping site. He drew in his breath and choked on his rusk as he gestured to me. BROWN hyena!

We watched in amazement as the animal looped in the direction of the two carcasses where we sat. It was almost surreal to see an animal we have been yearning about for so long. We were watching a live National Geographic show on the biggest screen on earth… A few of the jackals returned, but they gave the hyena a wide berth – respectful almost, they kept their distance and their quiet. The brown hyena approached the one carcass and gave it a sniff down, then walked to the other carcass and started to tear the stomach open. It took a huge chomp of meat and walked a few paces away to eat. At this stage, the jackals moved in – not on the kill – they started to pick on the hyena! Abruptly the hyena turned towards them and bristled its mane, making it look much larger and very fierce.

The hyena continued eating a bit on one carcass and then on the other – somewhat overwhelmed by this feast, and all the while, the jackals kept on pestering it for little tidbits. It was strange, since they could simply walk to one of kills and eat their fill, yet they chose to scavenge from the hyena. Perhaps the abundance of meat confused their ingrained behaviour patterns.

A half an hour later, the hyena chomped of a quarter of the springbok and headed back in the direction of the camp site whence it came from. We watched as it disappeared into the shrubs and speculated that it must be a “she”, carrying food to a den not too far away from where we were camping. We found her tracks the previous afternoon but never in our wildest dreams expected to see her.

It was time for us to move on – an approximate 160 kilometer stretch lay ahead back to Nossob and we had to use the coolness of morning to our advantage, since we had the fuel supply dilemma…

Contrary to our visit in August, we never saw a large herd of eland – we saw none actually, but were treated to masses of gemsbok and kudu. The tsamma melons had turned into a pale yellow in a few months, their green watermelon-like appearance now resembling scattered ostrich eggs. We did not see any gemsbok cucumber fruits but noticed the beginnings of a new crop sprouting all over the dunes in preparation for the dry season. All along the road, little paths were visible where small creatures walked after the rain.

Nossob’s gates welcomed us by late afternoon. Approximately 60 kilometers from camp, we noticed that there was no evidence of rain and the temperature started to pick up in quantum leaps. One pit stop in the bush to cool down the vehicle delayed our journey with a half hour which we used for lunch.

The luxury of a chalet awaited us as we booked in. By now, the staff of Nossob deemed us family and the latest updates were exchanged. Two very bushed and dusty humans settled into their chalet and had a long shower sans the exciting possibility of approaching lions…

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bushwoman Diaries
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:20 pm 
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Summary of KNP Botswana side – Mabuasehube 4X4 Wilderness Trail:

We made our booking telephonically at the Gaberone offices. We found that e-mailing a request and waiting for a reply was nerve-wrecking as the reply took a number of days and most of the questions we asked in the e-mail were not replied to. After calling directly, we received a confirmation e-mail two days afterward. Payment is easiest by credit card or direct deposit. We followed up to confirm payment and had hassles again, but received confirmation of payment the next day. On the previous visit, we paid in cash at the Two Rivers customs offices and were a bit peeved with the Pula/Rand exchange rate. Once you receive confirmation of payment, print it and take it along as the offices in Two Rivers does not have a computer. We did not have access to a printer to print our booking document the last time and this delayed us with three hours.

As your Wildcard is not part of the Transfrontier arrangement, please keep in mind that a daily conservation fee will be levied as well as a vehicle levy on top of the daily camping fee per person. Since we did the Mabuasehube trail in August, we initially wanted to do the Polentswa trail, but it became a very costly venture of P200.00 per person per night on top of the daily levies. What amazed us, was the fact that Polentswa had one formal camp site on this trail only – the rest of the trail offered “tree suites” only, thus we reverted back to Mabuasehube which is better value for money at P30.00 per person per night, given the fact that the camp sites offer an A-frame and a minimum of a long drop. It is only Mosomane site on this trail that has no facilities, and once again charged at R200.00 pax.

If you enter via Twee Rivieren and exit at the same, you will not need a passport to do the trail, but if you exit at Mabuasehube gate, you must have your passport and necessary documentation for your vehicle. All formalities in this regard must be taken care of at Two Rivers before you enter the trail.

We carried everything we needed to be self-sufficient. Water and fuel are the essentials, as some of the camping sites do not have water, and those that have, are not fit for consumption. It also advisable to take insect/mozzie repellant in summer time, as they come hungry at dawn and dusk…

All the camping sites have A-frames and at least a long-drop. Matopi one and two, Mosomane and Mabuasehube site one have no facilities. In August we camped at Rooiputs and there was water, in November when we were there, there was not a drop – so be careful not to assume anything with these wilderness areas and rather prepare to expect nothing.

We love this trail and the camping experience that it provides. It is truly wild – no fences, no modern facilities and chances are that you will see the odd vehicle passing you on the roads on rare occasions. The camp sites are situated far apart which creates a feeling of being alone in the bush, yet, Mabuasehube site offers an ideal venue for a group as two of the sites are within close distance of each other. With the exception of Matopi one and two, all the sites are situated on the outskirts of a pan, which allows for magnificent views and extraordinary sunsets – especially Lesholoago, Bosobogolo and Khiding. Most of the pans have water holes which attract game and birds – especially raptors.

This trail is an incredible experience and definitely worthy of including in a KTP visit, given that you have a 4X4 and know the basics of negotiating your vehicle in sandy conditions.

_________________
“ When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ”
John Muir


Last edited by ndoto on Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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