Thanks once more Jo, Dotty, annalie, MM and ingrid
I will thanks you in detail later but first as promised the first KTP installment Tuesday, 10.02.2009 – Augrabies Falls N.P. – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
But before we could leave we wanted to enjoy a very last breakfast with view down to the rocks on our veranda but unfortunately same had to take place inside as it started once more to rain although the sun was still shining
After packing had been done and we had grabbed our exit permit from the reception – the lone klipspringer was still at the same spot as yesterday evening - we hit the road to Upington as still a couple of things had to be bought.
First stop was of course at the famous Skaapland butchery, then Pick’n’Pay which we left with two full trolleys and finally after a quick pitstop we were on our way. Whilst we started with sunny and warm weather at Augrabies and Upington the closer we came to the park the darker it was. Just after the crossing to the Upington airport and nearly down the whole road up to the park it rained heavily with very dark grey clouds. Gladly the road is meanwhile completely tarred and the park is easy to reach especially after such heavy rains.
We arrived at the gate around 1 p.m. formalities were done in no minute, check in at reception took also not much time and once more we unpacked everything only for one night but as we had to re-arrange the packing of our foodstuff we completely unpacked the car. Chalet No. 1 had been awarded to us which is the one which is farest away from the reception and shop but for us it was great as we had the ground squirrels in their holes all by ourselves and the legs could be stretched a bit longer whilst strolling through the camp.
Lucky for us it had meanwhile stopped raining and only white clouds were hiding the sun. First thing after the foodstuff was at it’s place was to sit with a coffee on our veranda and breath the first Kgalagadi air and studying the just bought Kgalagadi information guide. Whilst sitting and relaxing more and more curious ground squirrels came closer and closer and inspected us intensively. Timon grabbed once more his camera, laid down in the wet red sand and snapped away.
Plenty of them were very active in running around digging, nagging each other, digging again and searching for food. It was great fun watching them. In between the ground was also covered with plenty of giant millipedes – compared to those found in KNP these KTP ones are indeed giant (at least they do have the double size).
After our break we strolled a bit through the camp and inspected also the shop which was quite well stocked and enjoyed an ice cream which will be the last one for at least the following 2 weeks.
Thereafter very excitedly we packed the car as our very first game drive in KTP was said to begin and already curious to know what animal will be the one we will spot first. Unfortunately during our whole stay the road between Kij Kij and Samevloeiing was closed so the decision which road to take was at least from Twee Rivieren easy
Close to Samevloeiing (at the end of this trip report I guess I can spell it by heart – presently I always have to check in the map how the spelling is)
we spotted our first animals – ostriches – and whilst crossing the dune road we heart another bird prior we spotted it – a white-quilled korhaan. Fortunately it was getting brighter and brighter and also the sun was coming out at the end of the day.
Our first view into the Auob River bed after crossing the dunes.
It was dry already now in February – okay on our very last day this river was flowing - but for the first days it was still bone dry.
We drove further up the road and approx. 200 m after Houmoed something was running eagerly on the ground very close to the road much to our delight it turned out to be another animal highly on our wish list (as so many more.....) – meerkats!!!
It was a great fun watching them. As the ground squirrels in the camp they were running around, observing the area, digging in the sand for food. Then the whole procedure started again running, observing digging and again and again.
Sometimes we only saw their tails, some had dirty noses and faces covered with red sand and even one of them digged out a huge beetle and started feeding on it – the crunchy and juicy noises told it all – same must have been delicious.
After 45 minutes they all unfortunately disappeared higher on the dunes and we could no longer spot them. I know that it was a privilege to spot these animals already on our very first day as although typical Kalahari animals they are in KTP a rare sighting according to all those other KTP reports which I read prior to our trip. So we were in 7th heaven not only about the sighting but also as furthermore we were the only car at this sighting.
As it was still enough time to drive a bit further we decided to drive up to Munro and then back – always in mind that you never know which might come out on your way back to camp. Unfortunately our first Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk was a bit too far away for a descent picture but the Verreaux’s Giant eagle owl placed itself perfectly for some nice shots in the middle of a dry tree.
Obviously it was still a bit sleepy – You could have put a “please do not disturb” sign onto the tree that would have fit perfectly
The first herd of springboks,
some lone wildebeests, a yellow mongoose as well as another noisy bird came across until we spotted high above on the red dunes shortly before Munro our first Kalahari lion – not a great picture - but the way he placed himself on the dunes was so idyllic and typical Kalahari.
As usual time was running out and after only 15 minutes we spent with him we had to leave also due to the fact that he laid himself down was no longer visible for us. On our way back we spotted once more meerkats now directly in the Auob riverbed but in fact unfortunately a bit too far away for descent pictures as moreover they are very well camouflaged.
Whilst crossing the dune road again the sun came out with a dramatic grey sky
and finally the first KTP gemsboks presented themselves, another of those noisy birds and a Kori bustard as well as plenty of ostriches crossed our way in the dunes – just the typical dune inhabitants.
A short visit at Samevloeiing waterhole revealed not much besides some Namaqua doves but the view was nice and we spend a couple of time here unfortunately the famous Leopard mom with her cub did not appear.
As it was already nearly gate closing time we had to hurry a bit as we booked a table in the restaurant for 8.00 o’clock. After this very promising first game drive we enjoyed our dinner very much. The meal itself was delicious and the atmosphere in the restaurant just great.
Unfortunately somewhere in my bag I lost my small torch so the way back to our chalet had to be done in darkness not knowing whether you step into one of those squirrel holes or on any other creatures but as it was a clear night and the moon was shining although not totally full it was bright enough and we made it back safe.
Back in our chalet we switched on the air condition but one inhabitant of our chalet was not in favour of that and squeaked desperately – a bat – hanging on the thatched roof right up Timon’s bed. As he did not want to share his pillow with a bat we pushed the beds a bit further in the middle of the room and went to sleep. However, somewhere in the middle of the night Timon felt an itching at his leg – well it was neither me nor the bat – and after a closer inspection it turned out to be a giant millipede which made it somehow into the bed!!!
After same had been safely removed from our chalet and the beds had been inspected again carefully we slept very well this night with no other disturbances.To be continued.......