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 Post subject: Elpaco's week in Kgalagadi : August 2005
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 3:42 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:15 am
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I will write a report about my whole week in Kgalagadi so as to share it with you, show photos and give idea of what is possible to see to future visitors.
The pace of my writing is going to be very slow as I have still plenty of work to do on photos ...
thx for reading :D

Day 1 : Arrival
we arrived at Twee Rivieren at about 3 pm, coming directly from Augrabies. At 3:30 pm we are on the Mata Mata road hoping to see a lot ... :D
We start with a pair of Kori Bustards. Nice, I can remember thinking, as we had only seen 2 of them in 2 weeks in KNP in may... I could not guess at this time how many we were going to see in one week....
Along the 10 kilometers through the dunes, we found hundreds of striped mice, all in their private hole... Some more animals in the Auob river bed : some gnus and then a group of gemsboks, which we had never seen before in the wild.
Then a little animal on the road : a black backed jackal . Nice again, we saw only a few ones in our previous trip, so we stayed a little with him. He came to cross the path of a Springbok and they nearly fought together. Very entertaining (see the photo below).
On the way back we saw a big herd of sprinboks, sundowning...and a big bird of prey which I was unable to identify despite looking at my 2 books ...
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the night is very cold in the room as the air conditionning doesnot work well and we are a little bothered with a big BZZZZZZzzzzzz all night long coming regularly from the roof (or perhaps inside the room)...insect, or some kind of bird ... ?? I still don't know.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 11:58 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:15 am
Posts: 177
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thanks a lot for the support :D
Writing is actually not an issue but finding the good photos in my mess is more a problem .... :?

Day 2 : Special Offer : For one Kori Bustard sighting, get another one for free !

We left Twee Rivieren at 8.00 am heading for Nossob. They said it would take us 3 hours and a half ...ouch it took us more than the double....
On the road, we see lot of birds of prey on nearby trees, essentially pale chanting goshawks. The light is unfortunately not good for photos but I take some anyway. Lots of birds but not many mammals actually, springbok, gemsboks and gnus but no special sighting. We start counting Kori Bustards and quickly reach 20 sightings.
Suddenly, a big bird get scared by our car and start running. It is so close from the vehicule, I get also surprised by its quick move : it's a secretary bird ! I had never seen one before and am very happy ! The road is low (and so is our car) with bushes on the side so I haven't seen it before. We stay quite a while with it taking tens of photos but it is still scared and nervous and moves a lot.
On the way, we also see a beautiful lanner falcon taking off with its prey (a mouse probably) and some small birds of prey which I identify as pigmy falcons (actually i will realize later they were black shouldered kites).
Another interesting sighting : a herd of red hartebeests lying under the sun. there is another car watching them; the first sighting we have being 2 cars at the same spot !
The driver makes a sign and tells us there are 3 cheetahs on the hill at the previous corner...Waouuuuuuuuww ! We had never seen cheetahs in SA (only once in swaziland).
Indeed, we can see them on the crest, 100 meters from the car, thanks to this guy ! that was a difficult spotting.
The cheetahs are feeding from a red hartebeest, one at a time while the 2 others just lay under a small tree. 2 jackals emerge from the side and look at the prey but it is too early for them, they will have to wait.
nothing special on the rest of the road to Nossob. Beautiful camp, Nossob, and we have the biggest chalet (6 can sleep, it was the only one available when I booked).
Late afternoon, we are going for a drive to the north hoping to see lions... Plenty of cars at one place looking at one according to what they tell us but it is too far, we can not manage to see it. So no lion :( but a Yellow Ribbon !!! :D It is Caroline and Craig :wink: Prelude of a very nice evening as they come to our chalet at 7.00 pm with Tabs to invite us for a drink !
So we end up at their place for a special moment altogether also with Tabs'friends, Gavinw and wife and professionnal photographer Pyet Heymans, alias Ousus, who showed us three brilliant slideshows with photos he had taken in the park... WONDERFUL !!! :D Thanks all of you.

I forgot to say that we ended up with 42 Kori Bustards seen that day ... :shock: :D

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and the cheetahs :
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Last edited by elpaco on Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:39 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:15 am
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Day 3 : Lion Day !

I start to hear lion roaring at about 5.00 am. Nossob is famous for that and I am not disappointed. At reception (it’s already 8.00 am, we are on holiday after all 8) ), someone tells me a big male was on the road 5 kms south a few minutes ago. We hurry there and find it on a small crest just with the sun behind him. We meet Tabs and her friends there too. We have breakfast in our car watching this beautiful adult. We can’t stay too long, as we have to go back to Twee Rivieren (it took us about 8 hours on day 2)
We take Marie se Draai loop and get stuck in the sand at the crossing. Fortunately, Caroline and Craig were following us and they gave us a big help (and a big push), Thanks again. This is not very safe, as we had seen several jackals on the road but what else could we do …

On the road we meet 4 other lions, on a slope, resting under a tree : 3 females and a young male. Typical lion business : Zzzzzzzzzzz ! :D
As we arrive at Jan se Draai, another female crosses the road just before me, heading for the shade on the hill again. But this time the show is in the river bed : there is a killed gemsbok, still in good shape, with jackals and vultures fighting for lunch. So we have our lunch too and spend about an hour watching : I count up to 10 jackals, from different groups as they wage some hard fighting to get a ticket for the carcass. The vultures (about 30 of them), all white-backed’s, have to wait but nevertheless fight for their rank on the waiting list…
On the way back, I spot an immature bateleur in a big tree and then another bird on a tree overlooking the road : a Verreaux’s Owl !Actually 2 of them, and finally not only 2 but 4, all on the same tree. Waow. One is well awaken and stares at us, whistling like mad.. I did not know owls have this kind of social life…
The afternoon is not over, and my mind focuses on seeing an African wild cat on the way. That’s very funny as I spend about half an hour, thinking about seeing one (and no other animal) and suddenly here it is, 3 meters from the road, behind a bush. I would have missed it if I had turned my head to the right side, but I look left !!!. 3 wild cats, playing in a low tree, one of them waits kindly for us to take a photo…
2 kms further, there is another one on the road : it jumps behind a bush and it is gone when we arrive there less that 5 seconds later …My guess is it hids in a hole somewhere as the area is open (except a few bushes) and it is not possible it has just vanished … after a thought, I am pretty sure it was a caracal , as it was darker and bigger than a wild cat…

I am now real hot as sightings come at a regular frequency : 2 young birds of prey in a nest and then a yellow mangoose and now is a Cape fox …What a day that was !

And what an evening as we end in twee Rivieren restaurant with Tabs and her 3 friends for a very friendly dinner (Tabs, what about that photo ?), eating some Ostrich fillet (but not killed in the park :wink: )


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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 1:17 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:15 am
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thanks to you :D

Day 4 : so so

We are now staying at Twee Rivieren for the rest of the week (our attempts to find a vacant chalet in Mata Mata were unsuccessful). We decide to drive around the first loop from Twee Rivieren, going through the dunes on the Kilie Krankie road, starting towards Nossob.

Pretty poor day in terms of sighting (difficult to beat day 3), especially in the morning : we reach Kij Kij very early as we hardly stop on the way.
The road through the dunes is very beautiful, especially the beginning, with the red sand, and all the fruits (kind of mellons don’t remember the name, just remember that most animals eat this very humid fruit (90% moisture)).
The first funny sighting comes at Kij Gamies water hole where we spot a black headed heron !!! What the hell is it doing here, we don’t know, I thought they rather like flowing water …
Just after this one, we hear the characteristic scream of a northern black korhaan, and of a second one on the other side of the road. 30 seconds later, we find an immature pale chanting goshawk on the road, not shy at all. I manage to drive less than 3 meters from him before it starts moving.
It is funny how things work : nothing to see in the first 2 hours and then 3 nice birds in 5 minutes.
We have lunch at the pic nic spot overlooking the Auob river bed (Auchterlonie)
The afternoon is better : we spot an animal walking quickly on the river bed, about to cross the road ahead of us : it’s a caracal !! This time we can see it quite well and even manage to take a photo. I try to get closer and speed up a little to try to block him on the river bed (as it is about to cross the road and climb the hill on our right). Maybe I scare him, maybe it gets scared because of 2 loudly crying crows flying over us but it starts running and vanish over the crest in a few seconds … The sighting lasted less than a minute but I am very happy to have seen clearly this beautiful animal.

Further on, we find a ground squirrel eating a melon on the road. We don’t know how the melon ended on the road but it is so fun to watch this squirrel with its head inside the fruit, which is just as big as him.
At Houmoed waterhole, we find some digging suricates : our first good sighting of them. Again, these small animals may not be spectacular and are probably overlooked by most visitors but they are very funny and we spend some time with them.

Back at Twee rivieren at 2.30 pm, we go for another drive half an hour later but could not find much, except at the main road crossing, where we see some young male springboks fighting (or playing)…

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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:30 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:15 am
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I have of course been very happy with this caracal sighting. I had never seen one in my 2 previous trip to the Kruger and I saw 4 of them this time(1 in West Coast NP, 3 in Kgalagadi) but very quickly everytime.
I don't know what to think about being lucky or not : when you spend 10 hours a day on roads, you expect to see a few different things every day. I am perfectly aware that I have had interesting sightings (and wait for day 5 :wink: ), I also missed a few and I know other visitors have had special sightings too....

For example, in the whole week, we had only 3 lion sightings (all on day 3) and only from over 30 meters, although Kgakagadi is famous for lions...even in the Kruger, I have had better and closer sightings of lions...
and no sighting at all of a hyena (although there are lots of them in the Park)
so I don't want to appear bored or unthankful, I just try to tell what I feel about my sightings ... :D


to answer arks: the ground squirrel tried a few times to get inside a hole suricates were digging : at that time only, there was some interaction as the suricates fiercely forced him back. otherwise, they just ignored each other.

bert : think you were asking about my camera: not a professional one at all.
It is a Fuji finepix S5000.
And I bought in Capetown a teleconverter Fuji TL-FX9 which adds *1.5 to the zoom but gives sometimes some trouble with the auto focus.
I am very happy with it even if the zoom is not big enough , especially for birds because the quality of the colour is generally very good.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:46 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:15 am
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Location: Paris
your support helps a lot, thank you very much :D
Day 5 : on the road to Mata Mata

Today, we decide to take the second big road and head to Mata Mata or as far as we can go before going back.

The morning is rather quiet for this long drive, except for birds of prey. The first 80 kms are filled with black shouldered kites and pale chanting goshawks.
Then after Urikaarus, I start to look inside trees as there are now some along the road, searching for owls and that was a good idea as I spot an African wild cat laying on a high branch (what about a AWCITS club ?). It doesnot seemed to be disturbed at all and look at us for a while before starting to move. We think it is about to jump and flee but not at all, it just stretches its legs and sits again at the same place….

After a while we reach Mata Mata which lays in a beautiful surrounding. The last 5 kilometers of the Auob river bed just look like a large golf fairway, with green grass and trees on both sides. If you add, the red dunes just behind and some springboks, it is just fabulous … :D
We decide to go back a little and have picnic at Craig Lockhardt waterhole. The hell of a good spot that I strongly recommend : the place is shady (a big tree just over you) and the waterhole is less than 10 meters from the car. We stay there about an hour, watching birds (lots of namaqua dove come to drink) and a group of gemsboks, first puzzled by our car but then confident enough to spend the hour with us. I take lots of photos of them. Other interesting birds are around : crimson breasted shrikes, yellow canarys, redbilled finches etc …. A jackal walks by and goes without drinking.

As time is passing we decide to drive back and very soon see a Verreaux’s Owl, on a low branch 5 meters from us. It looks a bit weird. First we think it is just sleeping (and having a nightmare) but it just doesnot look fine. Then it starts shaking its head and moving from right to left, I bet it is sick and suddenly it throws up something quite big, which I identify as a large part of a mouse !!! Most definitely a digestion problem as the owl looks a lot better after that … :lol:

A few kilos down the road, my girlfriend Marie, spots 2 cheetahs under a tree. Very difficult spotting, the tree is about 150 meters from the road on our left hand side and the cheetahs are just lying down in the shade. Another cheetah joins them coming from behind a dead tree nearby, followed by another one and another one. 5 cheetahs ! Caroline and Craig had told us, they had seen this group of 5 a few days ago near Mata Mata (which is only 25 kms away). We decide to wait a little, hoping for some activity as they are quite far from the road. And we won’t be disappointed !
I still don’t know what happened really but suddenly, I see a springbok running in the river bed followed by 2 cheetahs at full speed. Incredible feeling, I can still hear in my head the loud noise of their feet on the ground : a incredible impression of power. Wooff. Of course they are so fast, we can’t follow the whole hunt, especially as they disappear behind a big low tree. But we have found the result : it is a miss ! The springbok is now standing 300 meters away and the cheetahs walking back to their tree. I guess, the springbok had not seen them as they were lying down and just walked by, immediately hunted by the group. When I really saw them running, the first cheetah was maybe 20 meters behind the bok, closing by, and I still don’t know how they manage to miss it, the others could have ran on a parallel path and block the bok further on. Anyway, they missed !
Now they are back again lying under their tree. After a short while they decide to move and start walking towards the road way ahead of us, then cross the road and disappear in the dunes …The hell of a good sighting, even if I could not manage a good photo …

Only shade was the very bad behavior from one of the cars also there : a big grey Toyota, with large stickers ‘Kalahari Safari’ on the sides. This driver did not say ‘hi’ or ‘cheers’, although we were the first ones to spot the cheetahs and showed them. Then when the cheetahs started walking ahead of us, to finally cross the road, this driver went all the way in front just in the middle of the road and did not let us (or the other 2 cars who had joined) go on front (of course the best place to watch and get a good photo of the cheetahs crossing the road). So people who like organized stuff, I suggest you contact this ‘Kalahari Safari’ : you will have the best seats on all sightings. As for respect of others or politeness, it is another matter but who cares, you come to South Africa to watch animals, not be friendly …I was (still am) very upset ! :evil:

Anyway life goes on and we have 90 kms to drive in 3hours, which is going to be hard…On the way back, I recognize the tree of the morning and guess what : the cat is still there on the same branch !!! Then we meet the giraffes, impossible to miss when they walk in the river bed ! A big male starts smelling the arse of a female and goes back …Bad boy !

We have a short break at the picnic area : a red eyed bulbul, not shy at all, comes towards the car, lays on the mirror and is about to enter the car. Beautiful bird and quite funny behavior for a very close sighting …

We arrive on time at the gate, quite tired actually by this long drive … we meet Caroline and Craig at the restaurant later and finish with a drink together :D .

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Last edited by elpaco on Thu Sep 08, 2005 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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