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 Post subject: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:49 am 
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I just woke up this morning and realized that the next time I put my head down to sleep, i'll be in a tent in Twee Rivieren. WOW.

I didnt expect to be off to KTP again for at least another few months. I knew the place was almost fully booked and I didn't have one of those bookings. There were places in TR, but it would have hurt to be all the way up there and not stay in Nossob.

But... it pays to keep checking availability! Two weeks ago I saw that three consecutive nights had opened up in Nossob (they hadn't been there that morning). I'm hopeless with the online booking system (and I don't have a credit card), so I couldn't nab my spot. It was 5pm on the dot and my frantic calls to Annamarie at the Canal Walk booking desk were unanswered. So the next morning, I tried again, got Annamarie and reserved my spots. I love how i've become so known to her that I just needed to say, 'Hi, it's Anna. PLEASE! I NEED THOSE NOSSOB SPOTS IN JUNE!' That's all it took. She told me that she had cancelled those bookings the day before. So now my campsites were reserved and it was happening, in just two weeks, I was off to KTP again. And two weeks is today.

I thought i'd be going alone again. I have few friends, and the ones I have have got lives and jobs and loved ones and can't just abandon them. But one friend responded to my offer. For this trip report, she wants to be called Cactus Scot (she's from Arizona and went to university in Scotland with me, but now lives in Joburg). I'm so excited to have the company!

So todays plan is to go back to bed, pick up Cactus Scot from the airport at 3, do some last minute food shopping, and drive out at 8pm. I want to be at KTP first thing in the morning when the gates open.

Thank you to everyone who gave awesome advice about cold weather camping. I'll be testing it out in a matter of hours.

I just can't wait to be in the place again. I'll cry when I see that first sign just north of Upington. I'm hoping for luck with animal spotting on this trip. I'd love to see some meercats. I know I won't see a leopard (ever). But i'm completely desperate to see Skinny. I met him first in October, then again in November and December. I watched him hobble on his foot. I cried for him. I have two nights in Mata Mata- it's optimistic, but i'm hoping for something. I think that even hearing about Skinny sightings will be enough. I just need to know he's okay. But animals or not, i'm going to KTP! :dance: The sunsets, the night drives, being first in the gates every morning, the roosterkeok, the dust in the car... I can't wait. In less than 24 hours i'll be there...


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:47 am 
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Oh gosh, I should probably think about packing soon... I don't like packing....


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:13 am 
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Micetta, p@m, anne-marie, wanderw, Petra Jacobs & A-J: Thank you!

Well, I just got back. It's 2am. Quite tired, but wanted to check in. Very depressed to be home.

I've got all my notes ready and i'm going to start writing as soon as possible.

The trip was completely beautiful, but had the most terrible start imaginable. After two hours in the park, I wanted to get in my car and drive back to Cape Town. I probably would have if Cactus Scot hadn't been with me. It was that bad! You'll read all about it soon..

And then tonight, my car (which had survived more than 1500kms on KTP's car-killing roads), was serioudly damaged while I passed another car on the R27 north of Calvinia. Rocks flew from under the other car and I thought I might have a little dent. But when I stopped in Calvinia, I found that the rocks had left a big hole in my hood (which will need to be completely replaced). Scary, as a rock which could pierce metal could have gone through my windscreen if it had been a few inches higher. My car looks like it's been shot with a rifle.

To make it worse, when I tried to pull away from the garage, my car made a horrible grinding sound and didn't want to move. Once you overcome that, it drives normally. Fine for long distances, but it'll be impossible in the city. It must have been damaged underneath by one of the rocks.

Thankful to make it home safe, but terrified to think of the repair bill i'll have by next week. Really can't afford this right now...

BUT, the 9 days between those two days were absolute heaven. So i'd say the trip was like a sandwich, with the yummiest filling you've ever tasted, but the bread was mouldy. But the filling is so good you forget about the bread... That's as philisophical as I can get after waking up in TR, driving in the park until 1pm, then driving to Cape Town and trying to write on a forum at 2am. I should get some sleep. Ramble, ramble, ramble...


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:02 pm 
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Thank you everyone! You guys rock :D

I've just managed to write up part 1. Like I said before, it starts badly, but it gets very happy- I promise!

I've just unpacked my car, which was sad, but when I turned on the engine to make sure it still starts, I got a blast of thick KTP dust from every air vent- it's like I never left! :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:13 pm 
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Day 1: AM

We left Cape Town at about 8pm. It was pretty uneventful. Arrived in Upinton at 4am and was horrified to find my precious Engen 1-Stop in Upington was under construction and had been reduced to a porta-potty and a trailer holding a few packets of chips. Not fun when you had waited several hundred kilometres for some nice clean bathrooms and a last minute snack stop. It might have been my worst bathroom experience ever! But, nothing mattered. For some reason when you get to Upington you feel like you’re almost in KTP and it’s delicious.

We stopped on the long road north from Upington to look at stars and enjoy the quiet. Completely beautiful. The day before, I’d bought a cheap key-chain thermometer at an outdoors shop. We named it Binky. Binky said it was -5, and it felt like it!

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As the sun was about to rise, we parked, took photos and got our first glimpse of red Kalahari sand. I also realized I had left my booking reference stuck to my fridge in Cape Town. Got a little worried that there might be a problem with that.

We arrived at the gates at 7:00 and had a 30 min wait for them to open. The campsite looked pleasantly empty and the new visitor centre looks like it’s almost ready. I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally be here! :dance:

In TR, we scouted out a campsite. I’m not a fan of the campground at TR, but when you’re not on the lookout for a shady spot (like in December), the campsite is suddenly quite wonderful. We put up the tent and Binky was reading -10. It was quite cold. I was thankful I’d bought mittens at the last minute, but I was still wearing flip-flops… :doh:

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Despite being really tired, I just wanted to get into the park and by 8am we were in for a morning drive. Welcomed by the usuals- springbok, gemsbok, ostrich, wildebeest and jackal. I was home again.

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No sooner had we descended into the Auob riverbed than we had a meercat sighting! They were far away but it didn’t matter- I had binoculars this time. We watched them play for a while. Nothing beats meercat watching. I was completely thrilled because meercats were something I’d hoped to see on this trip and we had only just arrived. :D

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We had breakfast and a little walk at Aucterlonie. Saw a giant cricket in a bush and my first agama of the trip. By this time it had warmed up very nicely and some of the layers could come off.

The trip was off to the most wonderful start. But remember when I said my trip started badly? This is where it all went wrong…

On the way back to TR we had begun our trek across the dune road, when I suddenly saw a Cape Cobra by the side of the road. Cactus Scot was driving and I yelled for her to stop (she wasn’t thrilled to have a cobra hooding up at her and was a little reluctant). We stopped just ahead of the cobra and I jumped into the backseat to photograph it from a better angle. It was gorgeous! One of the biggest I’d seen. It had relaxed and was crossing the road slowly and gave me a great photo opportunity. I was so excited as I hadn’t expected to see snakes on this trip, given the cold.

As I was photographing my cobra, I could see a pickup truck coming along the road. Naturally, I expected them to slow down and stop. After all, we were parked in the road photographing a giant yellow cobra. But they were speeding over the dune road and weren’t slowing. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was in the backseat of the car and completely helpless. I screamed so loudly when it happened. They sped straight over the cobra and into the distance. It was over- just like that. I felt completely sick. I can honestly say that’s the most upsetting thing I’ve ever seen.

I burst into tears. Cactus Scot pointed out that it was still moving and it was clearly fine. I hate that popular myth that snakes survive being hit by cars. I have many friends who insist that the faster a car is travelling when it hits the snake, the less likely the snake is to die. :wall: I’ve bred snakes. I know that accidentally dropping one on the floor had the potential to kill it. Their ribs are too easily broken and while they often survive for a while after being hit by cars, they’ll have sustained fatal internal injuries.

The beautiful snake writhed in pain, but made it off the road. I couldn’t believe I’d seen my favourite animal and now I was watching it die. I couldn’t believe this had happened in a national park, where people are meant to respect nature. I was completely shocked. I came dangerously close to saying a swear word out loud for the first time in my life. I was crying, shaking, upset and very angry. I started crying that I wanted to go home, which made Cactus Scot mad at me. But I just wanted to go home. It's all I could think about. If I had been alone on this trip I would have done it. I didn’t want to be in KTP for another minute and I didn’t want to come back.

When I went back to reception to hand in my permit I was still in tears. I was asked if I was okay and I couldn’t help it. I started crying even harder and was taken into an office. I had to report the driver. I hadn’t intended to, but I couldn’t not. I knew it was an Izuzu with GP plates and they would have come back to TR one or two cars ahead of us. The staff were really kind and said that they would take this seriously. I didn’t want the driver to get in trouble. I knew (well, I hoped) that it was unlikely he’d deliberately hit the cobra, but I wanted him to know that he was speeding and that what he had done was very wrong and it hurt.

In a state of shock, I cried and sat alone by the ice cold pool for the afternoon and made contact with my dad in Australia. I just needed to talk to someone and Cactus Scot wasn’t speaking to me. I was tired and shaking. I hadn’t slept in 36 hours. The trip was not going well…


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:05 pm 
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Billyf, ingrid60, lorrainepring: Thank you for your nice words :)

Jonty1: The truck was actually just a fellow park visitor- not one of these 'work' trucks (I actually have two really positive stories to share about 'work trucks' later on in my TR). My truck was an elderly couple from Johannesburg. They were actually camping on the site right beside us.

Sharifa & Duke: The police got involved and put a note on the couple's permit so that next time they went out into the park they'd be given a warning. Later in the afternoon (while I was at the pool), the man came over to Cactus Scot (thinking she was the one who had complained) and apologized for the incident. He said he hadn't seen the snake until it was too late...

Sorry for the lack of trip report update. I've spent this week sitting at a Honda dealer. When I took the car in on Monday I was told my gearbox had been damaged, and was probably beyond repair. I was in a blur, but I kept hearing the words 'replacement' and 'R30,000'. Insurance wouldn't cover anything.

Spent the last few days panicking that if I was going to lose that amount of money, my time in South Africa would come to an abrupt end. Even looked at plane tickets home. But took car in today, they worked on the gearbox and my car is fixed! It still looks like i've been caught in the middle of a taxi shootout, but it runs now.

The problem was excessive amounts of dust and sand had got in to my gearbox... :whistle: This has made for one expensive trip to KTP! I'll be renting a car next time.


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:32 am 
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Filling anyone? This is just the start :)

Day 1: PM

I had calmed down later in the day (but still no sleep) and we headed out into the park again at 4. It’s frustrating that the Nossob road is closed! It really limits where you can go from TR, but I’m not going to complain. It’s for the better. It just means it’ll be all the more exciting on the next trip when the road is open again.

It did mean that we only went as far as Samevloeiing this evening. Scanned with binoculars. Saw the odd jackal on the distant dunes. Ate a bag of chips.

After about an hour at the waterhole, all the other cars had left. Then a jackal came to drink. Got some cute photos of him. This trip would really be one where I come to love jackals :)

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On the way back to camp, we were just outside the gate when we came across a road block. Excitement! There was the usual rush to see what direction everyone was looking in. I couldn’t see anything. Then Cactus Scot said, ‘it’s a cat’! Then I saw it, climbing the steep dune. It was hard to see, and I immediately thought ‘leopard’. But closer inspection revealed it to be a big cheetah! As it climbed, I could see it wasn’t alone. There was another, then another… then another. Four cheetahs! :dance: We arrived just in time to watch them disappear over the dune, and didn’t get any good photos. But wow. The only cheetahs I’d ever seen in KTP were Mom and Skinny, now there were these four. Right inside the gate, and on day one. I decided then that this was going to be a good trip, not a bad one. And it was only beginning.

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Back at camp, our first KTP sunset of the trip made everything lovely and pink. Cactus Scot and I decided to open up the Amarula. Neither of us are drinkers. I can only count a couple of times in my life when I’ve even tasted alcohol. But at the grocery store just before we left Cape Town, I decided that Forumites say we should camp with Amarula, so I’m going to camp with Amarula. Gosh, the stuff was GOOD. We realised then that our small bottle was not going to last.

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We were in bed by 7. I was tired, I didn’t feel well and I couldn’t sleep. I was also hot in all my layers of clothing. It was reasonably warm, so I de-layered down to a t-shirt. Something I’d regret at 2am when I would wake up completely frozen. :slap:


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:48 am 
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Day 2 (June 3, 2009): AM

We got up at 6:40 to allow us time to get the tent down and pack up. It was off to Mata Mata today. Despite the cold (and the flip-flops), getting out of bed was easier than we’d thought it would be. How can you find it hard to crawl out of a tent when KTP is waiting for you? Binky the thermometer told us it was -15 this morning. It was then we started to think Binky was a little inaccurate. It was COLD, but couldn’t be that cold. My feet froze in my ridiculous flip-flips though. I even cried a little. (You’ve probably realized by now that I’m a complete wimp and quite the drama queen). 8)

We were waiting at the gate at 7:20. It wasn’t long before we saw our first unidentified falcon on the TR dune road and then my favourite- Pale Chanting Goshawk! First one of the trip. CS also snapped this pretty photo of a gemsbok.

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In the dunes, we also came across a jackal family. Very cute. Then we saw a Jackal Buzzard! The day was going well for birds and I loved that I could identify so many of the ones we saw. CS had bought a giant bird book yesterday and we decided that we would become bird experts on this trip.

Between Monro and Kamfersboom, we saw something sitting on the ridge on the other side of the riverbed. It looked huge! I could only see ears and I thought it might be a big owl. But it was big. Definitely a cat. The sun was stopping us from seeing any pattern. I assumed AWC, but I couldn’t get over how big it looked. Then it stood up. I watched it walk though binoculars. It was strong and muscular- surely not an AWC?

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A passing car stopped and we told them we couldn’t figure this one out. I told them I thought AWC. They said, ‘nope, too big. Definitely a caracal. Thanks for showing us.’ And they drove off…. What?! :big_eyes:

Number 1: It was SO NOT a caracal. CS thought it was one, but the shape was all wrong.
Number 2: They drove away! What are you looking for that morning if you see a caracal and drive away?? :wall:

It was annoying not having a positive ID. Still thinking it could only be an AWC, but still confused about the size, we drove on, knowing we could show our useless photos to rangers at Mata Mata.

Before Montrose, we saw our first Cape Fox of the trip! Total cutie.

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At Montrose there were two cars stopped. It didn’t take long to see them. I saw the babies first. Three tiny, tiny fuzzballs. My first look at cheetah cubs! I thought my heart would explode. Then I saw mom. She was collared! While I was trying to work out if it was at all possible that this could be Skinny’s mom, being so away from Mata Mata (it wasn’t), she turned towards the car… and bolted… straight for our car. Windows up. It happened so fast that it didn’t register. But CS got an awesome video of the whole thing, which is completely ruined by my stupid commentary- ‘Dude! Dude! It’s going for the Springbok! No flipping way! That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!’. ‘Flipping’ even sounds like a much worse word that I’ve never said in my life. Ugh. Must keep mouth shut. :slap:

As she reached our car, she swerved in front of it and up the bank on the other side. She was after a lone springbok to the left of our car that I hadn’t seen. She missed it, and I felt bad that we had been in her way without knowing it.

I was so excited though. I’d never seen a cheetah chase something. Most of my animal sightings in the past were, ‘lion under tree’, ‘cheetah far away’, ‘hyena far away; under tree’. I’d read TR’s from forumites who’d seen chases and kills and cool interactions between animals. I wanted to be one of those forumites. This would be the trip where animal sightings would be action-packed and interesting. I could feel it. :cam:

In the riverbed, the fuzzballs were running to meet up with mom. We got some cute photos of the reunion. Wow. That was now eight cheetahs by day two. They crossed the road in front of our car and disappeared over the bank. Cheetahs like to do that.

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We then saw our first Tawny Eagle of the trip.

Stopped at Kamqua for rusks.

Just as I was telling CS that we hadn’t yet seen any mongooses on this trip, we saw two! And they were of the Slender, rather than the Yellow variety. I thought it was a pretty special sighting. I spent the rest of the drive to Mata Mata telling CS is was very odd we hadn’t seen any leopards on this trip. :wink: It didn’t work.

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20kms outside MM, the corrugations got BAD. The driving was hard and I got a killer headache. But it faded when I saw Mata Mata. I knew it was fully booked and I expected it to be packed, but it was lovely. It was quiet and we got a fantastic spot on the fence… with electricity! I was in love with the place. I was home. It was good.

Signed up for a night drive, but we were the only two, and it wasn’t going to run with just us. Spent the afternoon watching ground squirrels, downing Amarula, saw a Lilac-Breasted Roller at hide. A guy who had been here for weeks told us no one was seeing lions. He’d only seen one. I thought it was odd that we hadn’t seen lions on the way to Mata Mata. But… I didn’t care. Eight cheetahs and happy to be here! :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:25 am 
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Day 2: PM

With the night drive off, we went out at 5pm to look for Bat-Eared Foxes. Failed miserably. Not one. Got lots of Auob scenery shots though. We drove really, really slowly (like 5km/h) to enjoy the atmosphere and avoid the corrugation. So slow that a couple of people stopped to ask us if we were okay.

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Back at camp, we saw some Hornbills in our very cool tree. Ate some instant noodles. Photographed the Southern Cross (because being northern hemisphere types, the Southern Cross is infinitely cool 8) ), sat in the hide, watched gemsbok. Our neighbour came over, told us he’d stopped counting when he saw over 100 Bat-Eared Foxes on his drive that evening :wall: , and told us that hyenas were walking the fences each night.

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Didn’t see hyenas, but heard jackals once the generator had been switched off. Fell asleep at midnight, completely happy. Mata Mata was a lot colder than TR.


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 1:42 pm 
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Day 3: AM Mata Mata

Binky said it was -25. Our water had frozen, but -25? CS reminded me that Binky was our official trip thermometer, and we were allowed to claim it was indeed -25.

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So despite the record breaking cold at Mata Mata, it was easy to get out of bed this morning. We hopped in the car at 7:30 and had hot chocolate and oatmeal. Bringing a kettle on this trip was a great idea.

The roads had been graded! Sweet! They were perfect. We finally found some giraffes and bat-eared foxes. The batties were too far away to get good photos of. On this drive, I was obviously looking for Skinny.

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Because the roads were great, we decided to go as far as Kamqua this morning. Near 14th, we saw our first lion of the trip. AND she had a wildebeest kill! She was very pretty despite the blood on her face. She was surrounded by hungry-looking, but cautious jackals. CS and I hoped something would happen, but it didn’t. :cam:

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It was wonderful to see a lion, as not many people in the park had been seeing them. We accepted this may be our only lion and appreciated her all the more. What a difference that makes from my last two trips to KTP where there were lions everywhere, to the point I got sick of them.

At the waterhole, there were some sweet little red-headed finches (thanks to the passing vehicle, who told us they were red-headed finches). And we also had a brief sighting of another Cape Fox. We also saw the giraffe carcass I’d read about on the forum.

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It was sad that no one was stopping for the small things. People didn’t even bother to stop at our bat-eared fox and Cape fox sightings. With such few ‘big’ things being spotted, the little things were so special. I feel bad that so many people didn’t appreciate the foxes.

We saw a Steppe Buzzard near Kamqua.

On the way back, I got a super-cool reptile sighting! Unfortunately it looked as though it may have been run over by a car (it didn’t look too alive), but we saw a Cape spade-snouted worm lizard. That’s not something you see every day!

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Outside Mata Mata, CS saw her first vulture. She had never seen a vulture before, so it was a very big deal. I was relieved as I had promised vultures on this trip. I knew there’d be more to come at Nossob…

We got back to camp around 12.


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 1:45 pm 
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Day 3:PM

We had gone into the park without tidying our breakfast dishes, so we found them scattered around the campsite. I found my beloved Spork dangerously close to the fence.

We saw the White-Faced Scops Owls at the gas station in camp.

I was feeling brave, so I thought I would go swimming. It was freezing (as of course, it had been -25 a just few hours ago), but CS promised to buy me a cheese pie burger if I jumped in. So I did. Over and over again. Got lots of weird looks. CS got a great photo of a bee-eater skimming the pool for bugs.

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After the pool, we found that people had come and camped on top of us, despite empty sites all over camp. I admit that I like to be far away from people and this kind of thing makes me angry. I prayed that they had no lights with them (bad Karoo NP experience) and no Abba panpipes music (bad Addo experience). Like all people I complain about, these guys turned out to be really friendly and cool, and they’d be great conversation, both here and later at Nossob. AND, they signed up for a night drive, which meant… night drive tonight!


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:38 pm 
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Day 3: Mata Mata Night Drive

I had hoped we wouldn’t spend all our time watching the lion at 14th sleep…

While we waited to depart, CS and I walked over to the Namibian border. Being a huge dork, I had to put my hand in. CS chickened out.

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We took seats on the truck right behind the driver and guide. I like being able to talk to them during drives. Also, sometimes, you can benefit from their heater by doing this… :thumbs_up:

John would be our guide. He also guided my MM drive back in October when I was with my parents.

John got onto the truck with two spotlights. ‘Who would like to use the lights?’ My hand shot up. In my head I was yelling, ‘mememememememe!’, but on the outside, I was pretending to be cool. Unfortunately, I was sitting behind John and he couldn’t see my hand. I can’t not do a spotlight. One person volunteered reluctantly and another got volunteered by a friend, despite not wanting to do it. No spotlight for Moose.

We stopped at KTC to watch the sunset and to look at tracks in the bright red dunes. I jumped at the chance to ask John about Skinny. He said Skinny was doing great, had been collared and his territory was between Mata Mata and Craig Lockhart. I was thrilled, but John’s hesitation made me feel like he might have been lying to avoid telling a little girl that her cheetah had died. John also told us our ‘mystery cat’, was definitely an AWC.

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Once the sun had set, we set off in the dark. It got cold very quickly. The spotlight operators hadn’t turned on their lights, despite it being completely dark. This carried on for a good 20 minutes before John finally said, ‘We need the lights’. Unfortunately, John hadn’t given any instructions on how to use the lights, so both lights came on, fixed themselves towards the front of the truck (so they illuminated the spaces that the truck’s headlights already illuminated), and they didn’t move... except when a spotlight guy would get bored and simply turn off his light. I kept wanting to shout back that I’d be happy to take over if anyone was cold. It was frustrating, and predictably, we saw nothing. :wall:

We passed lots and lots of exciting eyeshine, which the lights never followed. We went straight for the lion, and got a wonderful surprise when we got there. I had said I didn’t want to watch lions on this night drive, but I take it back!

It didn’t take long to see her two cubs. John said they must be less than a month old. They were tiny. Mom sat in the same position she’d been in that morning, while the cubs played on (and in) the carcass. The jackals were still around, and mom wasn’t happy with them. After a few minutes she charged one. Lions can RUN! It was intense. The jackal got the message.

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Less than 30 seconds after leaving mom with her cubs, we came across a Brown Hyena drinking at 14th- wow! It was magical. For me, that blew the lion sighting away. :dance: We watched as the Brownie took cover in the long grass.

I’m glad we sat up front. It got very cold after a while. The spotlights were rarely on and animals kept running in to the road, without John saying anything. CS and I got to see Cape Hares, AWC, Cape fox, and an Eagle Owl. Only the Owl was announced. One of the spotters finally found something- Spring Hare!

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Spring Hares are my favourite nocturnal animal. A night drive just isn’t a night drive without Spring Hares and the whole, ‘it’s actually NOT related to a kangaroo’ speech that always accompanies the sighting. But this time, no speech. The spot guy just asked, ‘what are those rabbits? They’re everywhere’. ‘Springhare’, replied John. ‘Oh’. And we drove on. John is a great guy, but there was no information and education on this night drive, and that was disappointing.

When we passed the sign telling us Mata Mata was 20kms away, I was freezing. My layers weren’t enough and my feet were hopelessly cold. I vowed on the next night drive, I’d have a sleeping bag and a hot water bottle, but that wasn’t going to help me now with 20kms to go.

As we reached Mata Mata, I was having a quiet little cry about my feet (drama queen). Nothing could cheer me up… except… another Brown Hyena! It was beautiful. How quickly you forget about being cold. I jumped up and watched as the hyena ran down the road, the truck following it. It didn’t seem to be able to figure out it needed to get off the road, and we followed it all the way back to camp. I felt bad- that must have been pretty stressful.

When we got back to MM, I was buzzing from the Brown Hyena. The sightings board revealed that while were out, the waterhole at Mata Mata had been visited by a Brown Hyena (probably the same one) and by a cheetah (Skinny??).

In all, some fantastic moments on this drive, but it was brought down by the bad spotlighting and by our guide’s silence. But, Nossob tomorrow…. And more night drives to come!... :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:04 pm 
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Day 4: AM

We were up at 6:45 to pack up out tent. It was COLD again this morning. Binky read -19 and our water was frozen again.

I knew this was my last shot on the trip for a glimpse of Skinny. But I also knew it was probably going to be too cold this early. We were into the park at 7:30. Despite my slow, slow driving and scanning every ridge, I wasn’t going to see him on this trip. It was sad, but it was okay. I know he’s doing awesome, and that’s what I needed.

At 14th, the whole world was at the ‘lion party’. The biggest road block I’ve ever seen in KTP was looking at a bush, which supposedly contained a lion. I was itching for Nossob and there was no way I was going to hang around. As we pulled away, we got lots of looks that said, ‘how can you be leaving?’. The lion stuck her head out of the bush for a moment, before disappearing again.

At Kamqua, we changed out of our pyjamas before heading out over the upper dune road. There wasn’t much to be seen along the dune road apart from the odd Korhaan. They look so funny when they fly that we had to stop to laugh at them.

It was weird and wonderful to see a black-headed heron at one of the waterholes.

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On the dune road we also saw Kori Bustard #23. I should mention that from day 1, we decided to count Kori Bustards… It’s fun.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Nossob road. This had been a big fear of mine- not being able to see anything through the tall grass. But here I learned that the Honda is way taller than the Mini. I was also sitting on a pillow. The setup was great! There were only a few brief patches where the grass was too high. I didn’t feel disadvantaged at all.

Before Nossob, we spotted this guy. A juvenile…. something…bird? Can someone please ID? Is it a juvenile Bateleur?

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Then we saw a big Bateleur. They’re such cool birds.

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It was fantastic to ‘home’ in Nossob. I was sad to see that the duty manager I’d spent so much time with in December was gone and replaced by a woman who didn’t like her job, or people and didn’t have the ability to smile. More sad to learn that there were no night drives going out until at least the 8th. We were leaving on the 7th! No! The horror!

I did manage to get my favourite spot along the fence. No power, but really quiet. It just meant we’d have to take the kettle on walks.

At Mata Mata, I’d kept my car windows down the whole time while at camp. At Nossob I learned quickly that this would result in a car full of aggressive/bold/daring starlings.

I was so happy to be in Nossob hide again. I’ve been quite the camwatcher for the last few months, and to see my waterhole in real life was totally awesome. We were also greeted by a duck swimming around in the waterhole.

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I was also happy that the shop stocked Vaseline. My lips had been destroyed by the dry climate. They were bleeding and furry and white. I looked like a monster.

Went swimming after skimming several giant crickets from the pool.

After swimming, I met forumites! The same ones we’d seen driving past us on day 1. They were also the only forumites I’d seen in the park. It’s so fun to be so far from home, and have a stranger ask, ‘Are you Moose?’. I was so excited! So much so, that I didn’t catch her name.


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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:10 pm 
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Day 4: PM Nossob

We went out in the afternoon and did the Marie se Draai loop. It was bad. The road was more corrugated than anything we’d dealt with on the trip. It was going to be impossible to do this road again. I’ve never seen anything big on the MsD loop anyway…

Got back to Nossob at 6pm. We’d heard news of a brown hyena from people who thought it might be on its way to the waterhole. I sat at the hide with my Roosterkoek and soup waiting for a hyena that would never come.

In the hide, I met the Total truck driver. That afternoon, we’d seen the Total truck parked in Nossob making repairs. The driver had a flat and he wasn’t allowed to leave for TR after 3pm, so was stranded in Nossob for the night camping in his truck.

I always believed that the people who drive trucks like this through national parks were only there to do a job, and didn’t care about where they were. But this guy was so humbled by KTP and really appreciated where he was. He talked about cool sightings he’d stopped at and photographed on his phone camera. He spoke about how he didn’t want to come back until he could bring his daughter, and he expressed frustrations that not enough South Africans enjoy their national parks. So true. Apart from some interesting comments about inflatable women and eating roadkill, he was great conversation for a few hours. It was interesting to learn that the fuel truck comes up all the way from Cape Town, just to deliver to KTP. And I’ll have you all know that the petrol in KTP advertised as 93, is actually 95. “You guys get the good stuff”, he told me.

We sat at the hide watching plovers until 10pm when the Total man walked us back to our tent. The moon was almost full, and like at Mata Mata, you didn’t need a flashlight to walk around in the dark. I’ve never experienced moonlight so bright before. It was perfect. That night I forgot to put on layers. Woke up very cold!

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 Post subject: Re: It's time to go back... KTP June 2009
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:27 pm 
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Day 5 AM: Nossob

Where was I?....Oh yes…. NOSSOB! :dance:

This morning I got to wake in Nossob. I had the added privilege of not having to pack up my tent. We were going to be here for the next two nights.

Cactus Scot wasn’t feeling well this morning and decided to spend the day at the hide while I went out. I was at the gate before it opened (I always am). Because every other car was heading south, I decided to be different and try my luck up north.

The roads north were bad, but there was comfort knowing that the graders were on their way and would hit Nossob sometime that day.

At Kwang, I saw a wildebeest standing in the riverbed. I got very excited. Right next to it, was something small… a baby wildebeest! Score! Baby animals are awesome. I pulled out the binoculars to get a better look. I have to mention here that my ability to identify animals on this trip was ridiculous. I got everything wrong. I need to have my eyes checked again. 8)

“It’s a bat-eared… springbok….”
“Wow! No way! A leop… springbok…”
“Oh… my… gosh! It’s a cheet… springbok…”

I even got mistook springbok for birds.

“Kori Bus…springbok…”
“Sweet! Tawny…Eag…springbok…”

But the baby wildebeest wasn’t a springbok! :big_eyes:

It was a spotted hyena!

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A scan with the binoculars revealed three more hidden in the grass nearby. Wow. First spotties of the trip. I watched them walk with the wildebeest for about 20 minutes until they disappeared over a dune. I had them all to myself, and it was such an interesting sighting.

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At Bedinkt, there was a set of lion prints in the road. But no lion. I drove as far north as Langklass. The roads just got worse. I saw the exact spot where I’d taken my Mini for a swim in December. The groove I’d got stuck in was still there. :whistle:

I turned back for Nossob. Passed a huge convoy of 4x4’s headed north. No one waved back! This was a real problem on this trip. Would it kill you to wave? Or even just raise a finger from your steering wheel? Or even make eye contact? Or smile?... :huh:

Anyway. At Langklass, the lion prints had multiplied. By a lot. There were now lots of sets of fresh prints all over the road. Even above the 4x4 tire tracks. Excitement! The grass was so long, and knowing I was probably being watched by lions just feet from my car was awesome. There were also smaller prints which looked much like cheetah. There must have been some real drama here! Did I see anything? Of course not… But it didn’t matter. I knew they were there! Decided to come back this way tomorrow and try my luck again.

Back at camp, I did some laundry. All of my laundry. A big mistake considering yesterday had been hot and sunny. Today was cool and overcast. I’d washed all my sweaters and thermals and they weren’t going to be dry by the evening. It would be another cold night, but it was my own fault! :wall: :slap: I really am a moose...


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