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 Post subject: jaykay A Difficult KTP Trip December 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:06 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
After the tragic death of my brother Mybs, we were in two minds whether to continue the trip to the Kgalagadi we had planned together. It would have been our longest ever, eighteen days.

When it turned out that Tina (Mybs' wife) would not require surgery and could leave the hospital, we decided to make use of the remaining eight days. After all we had paid for the reservations. I am still worried about the emotional effect not having Mybs there with us as he had been on the last fourteen trips.

General Impressions

The park is very well run. The facilities are clean and well maintained and the staff friendly and professional. They seem to take a pride in their work and it shows. They also go out of their way to assist with booking queries. Especially the staff at the wilderness camps such as Willem and Jacques we met this trip are excellent at what they do. Whatever they are paid, it is not enough for the value they add.

The mix of the animals we saw was different from before. We saw all the usual suspects such as wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok, hartebeest, ground squirrel, bat eared foxes, jakkalsies, agama, skinks, PCGs, bateleur, tawnies, snake eagles, giraffe, etc. what we saw less of were lilac breasted rollers, bee eaters and lion. What we saw more of were black shouldered kites, leopards and cheetahs. In June we saw lion two or three times a day, but very few on this trip. Wonder why?

The weather was very pleasant with cool nights and moderate daytime temperatures under 30c. Apart from the last two days when it became hot and humid.

Here is the day by day account of what we experienced.

Saturday 10 Dec

We left Cape Town this morning, taking a route suggested to us to bypass the trucks and roadworks on the N7. The route takes us via Velddrif, Elandsbaai, Leipoldtville, Graafwater to Clanwilliam. Apart from a gravel detour around Dwarskersbos, there was little traffic and the scenic route is to be recommended. Last week we then went over the Pakhuis Pass from Clanwilliam to Calvinia to fetch Tina and ended up needing four wheel drive on a dangerous mountain pass. This time we went via Klawer instead. Lots of road works on leaving Calvinia, though.

As our first booking was at Nossop, we decided to overnight at Molopo Lodge near Ashkam. The accommodation is basic but clean and cheap although the bathroom needs maintenance. The garden and stoep areas are pleasant and relaxing and the beers are cold. The food is basic platteland fare (lots of meat, chips and cheese sauces al la "gordon blou") but the portions are generous.


Last edited by jaykay on Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Our KTP Trip Cut Short
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:39 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Sunday 11 Dec

This morning we had a late start. The power was out so the shower was cold.

The short 60 km to Twee Rivieren was uneventful. We booked in and started out for Nossop. Along the way we saw the usual gemsbok, springbok, hartebeest, wildebeest, PCG, bateleur, snake eagle. We also saw a young leopard under a tree, but there were so many vehicles and the light was poor, so we drove by. Later on we saw some kudu near Jan se Gat which excited my wife no end.

Along the way we met our fellow tourists: the Dutch/English/Americans in their rented Polo/Aveo/CitiGolf being shaken to pieces, the German/Italian/Scandinavian/Swiss couples in their Hilux Twincabs with Namibian number plates and a jerry can mounted on the right and then the GP number plates stuck on various expensive SUVs with snorkels, roof racks, spot lights and 19" rims with low profile tyres. Then there are the 'manne' with their bakkies with big wheels, tents and off road caravans. As usual, very few if any BMW or Merc SUVs.

We made use of the 4x4 detour, so we missed the dune road. The condition of the road near Nossop is very bad, even with tyre pressures at 1.2 bar the corrugations make your rattles rattle. Seems worse than when we were there in June.

The Nossop River bed has not yielded much in the way of photo opportunities this time. Hopefully the Aub will. Apart from these.

Secretary bird seeing off a Bateluer
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Raiding a weavers' nest
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Our night at Nossop was quiet apart from a head ranger visiting our neighbours to fine them for going off road at the leopard sighting. One of them GPs with 19" rims and low profile tyres...


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 Post subject: Re: Our KTP Trip Cut Short
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Monday 12

Today we took a quick drive to Marie se Gat. Not much to see, so we returned to Nossop to pack for our next destination, Bitterpan. As we had to leave by nine and could only book in at one, we had some time to kill. So we went north to Kwang. Again very little to see apart from the usual gemsbok and springbok. A lanner made a brief swoop at Kwang, but was nowhere to be seen at Cubitje Quap.

The drive to Bitterpan was far easier than expected. At first a little sand and then lots of corrugations. You do not really need a 4x4, just a bit of ground clearance.

The facilities at Bitterpan are great. You have a tent with two beds and a separate toilet with a shower. There is a communal kitchen. The only problem is that there are four units but only three fridges. Not a lot of shade either. The view of the pan is great.

Parking area
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Communal area
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Willem, our host, caught a mole snake. Very scared, lots of hissing. Beautiful animal.

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There are clouds building, hope we get rain.

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Last edited by jaykay on Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Our KTP Trip Cut Short
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:27 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Tuesday 13

Last night the winds came up, but no rain. Around four, a large male lion visited the camp and made his presence known. He sniffed around the cars, roared a lot and then left after about an hour and a bit.

At nine we left for Mata Mata. I retract what I said earlier about not needing a 4x4. There are some steep sand dunes which have holes caused by other vehicles spinning their wheels. You really get shaken about, so make sure everything is tied down. It is a beautiful two hour drive even though we did not see much wildlife. Both the waterholes are dry, perhaps which accounts for it.

Leaving the camp
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One of the sand dunes
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We entered to main road at Craig Lockhart. En route to Mata Mata (killing time) we saw two Cheetahs under a tree at Dalkeith and then another with a collar at 14th. We also saw the usual suspects including tawny eagle, some barn owls, etc. About a kilometer from Mata Mata we saw a honey badger crossing the road.

That evening we stayed in one on the new cottages where we saw two mating African cuckoos in the adjacent tree. Also the only bat eared fox so far this trip.

Some birdies
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Cheetah with collar
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 Post subject: Re: Our KTP Trip Cut Short
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:54 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Wednesday 14

We joined the 05h30 rush this morning.

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Saw giraffe for the first time. Also an hyena.

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At 14th we saw a young leopard, identified from its markings as Miera. As it jumped up into a tree near the water hole, a caracal dropped from it like a stone and ran off into the bushes. Way too quick for photos. Miera then walked over to dune and crossed the main road.

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Between Craig Lockhart and Dalkeith we came across a pair of African wildcat. The female kept on dropping to the 'position', but the male was not too interested. Must be having problems at the office ;-(. Unfortunately it was very far away and the heat does not make for a sharp photo.

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At the camp we had a leisurely brunch of bacon and eggs. My dual battery alarm had started to complain so I had a look at it. A wire connecting the starting battery to the deep charge battery had come loose. Seems that the connector was never soldered nor crimped. Time to recharge camera and laptop batteries, too.

The early evening drive took us all the way to 13th. A highlight was another African wildcat just lying in the shade in the open. Also far away and poor light.

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Supper is one of the excellent steak pies we buy at the farmers markets at Ntida and Laborie. As well as a sip of the new Johnny Walker Double Black. Met ys... Much smoother than normal Black, but still not a patch on the 14 year old single malt we also brought along. My current ranking of Johnny Walkers starting with most preferred first is Gold, Green, Blue, Double Black, Black and then Red. I think Blue is overrated. What is your ranking? Sad that the Green is no longer being made.


Last edited by jaykay on Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:45 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Touareg wrote:
Hi Jaykay...I see I am second in line at the gate :D . The id on the Leopard according to the booklet Astromat made available is a female called Mira (spelling) this is part of her territory. I believe Maya was relocated north of Nossob a year or so ago. Great AWC sightings. I still need to get them in the open for any period of time.


I was third, so that makes you ....... ;-)

You are right, it is Miera

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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Also seen on the 14th

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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:34 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Thursday 15

Not feeling too well so we gave the early morning parade a miss as we still needed to pack. The power did not come on, so no coffee this morning. The staff knocked on our door to advise that the generator was down and that the engineer was on his way from Twee Rivieren. We left at nine, still no coffee.

Our next stop is Urikaruus, about an hour from Mata Mata. As we had to wait until one before we could book in, we drove down to Montrose. Along the way we saw a cheetah with a collar at 14th hole, but it was way in the distance. At 13th we saw a Striped Kingfisher (corrected). The next moment he caught a lizard which was a bit of a battle for him to eat.

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We passed a parks truck with a generator on the back traveling at great speed. Some of the visitors at Mata Mata had a problem in that they needed fuel, but the pumps were not working. Good thing we filled up the previous evening.

At half past twelve we booked in at Urikaruus. It was my brother's favourite camp and we got his favourite hut (number 2) right in front of the water hole. As we had been driving around so much and had seen so little, we decided to set up and rest the afternoon. The previous night lion, leopard and caracal had visited the water hole, so we reckoned we were in the best spot.

Our view of the water hole

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Each uint consists of a kitchen/patio on the lower level and a bedroom/bathroom on the top level. The walkways are to protect against predators and snakes.

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The bedroom

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Last edited by jaykay on Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 8:22 pm
Posts: 246
Location: france
Great sightings Jaykay,Caracal,Leopard,African wild cats,lovely birds :thumbs_up:
The Kingfisher must be a Striped Kingfisher,beautiful capture :clap:
Not sure the Woodland Kingfisher occurs in the park :?


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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:02 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Friday 16

The water hole at Urukaruus has a new light. Last night we saw a large Verreaux's Eagle owl hunting for hours. The images are a bit grainy as I had to push the ISO to 6400 in the low light.

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We also saw a wildcat, bat eared foxes and a caracal came in for a midnight drink. Not enough light for pictures. Must invest in a Better Beamer for my flash.

As the setting is so ideal, we stayed put for breakfast and watched the scene unfold. Some sand grouse came in and was chased by a Lanner. Two whydahs visited us on the deck. And then we were rewarded with a scene of courage. A juvenile cobra had found its way between the huts and the resident ground squirrel was not happy. So he attacked the snake by nipping at its tail. Every time the cobra tried to strike, the squirrel puffed of its tail and turned its back to the snake, and then went for it again. Eventually it chased the snake into some undergrowth, but was still not happy. It charged into the bush and chased the snake further along until it disappeared into a hole. For the next hour it kept on checking on the snake, but it did not reappear. Viva Ninja squirrel!

Seems to be a juvenile

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Much too close and too much lens even at f/9

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Going into the attack

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The squirrel is in the air to avoid a strike

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As it was getting pretty warm we decided to put in some windshield time as we still had not seen enough lion. We went all the way down to Houmoed and then up to 14th again. Along the way we saw a den of bat eared foxes, four young hyena males, a very friendly juvenile PCG who let us get very close. Not much else.

Our friendly young PCG

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The four young hyenas

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That evening we saw the usual jackals, bat eared foxes, a night jar and spring hare. Then two adult and two juvenile hyenas came to drink. Later that night three young male lions came into the camp and caused much excitement. They drank for a long time and then walked between huts 1 and 2 before going off past Jacques’ accommodation.


Last edited by jaykay on Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:34 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Urikaruus Sightings

We saw quite a bit just sitting on the patio in the mornings:

Secretary bird take off

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A young visitor

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Lanner take aways

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Master of camoflage

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Whydah

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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:41 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Pumbaa wrote:
Amazing bird shots also here, jaykay, all of them :clap: :clap: :clap: but the squirrel / cobra sighting must indeed had been very thrilling to follow :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes:


Thanks Pumba. The problem is that I was sitting there with my 500mm lens and the action was right up close to the hut. With the long lens' shallow DOF I was struggling to get both in focus even at small apertures. The little squirrel was very plucky, kept on going for the snake's tail.

Jacques, our camp host, told us that he had seen a few squirrel kill a large cobra by 'playing him to death'. They keep on irritating the snake untill it is exhausted from striking the air and then bite it to death.

Apparently Suzi, the AWC at Kielie Krankie, also did that to a cobra that tried to go into no 3 where she has kittens.


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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:18 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
wanderw wrote:
Feedback on your TR - Just perfect as it is! :thumbs_up:
Superb pix and what luck to see the interaction between the squirrel and the cobra! :clap: :clap: :mrgreen: Your pix of Miera are fantastic - thank you for the update, and it is nice to know that she is exploring north a bit - the furthest north she was seen before your sighting was 13th borehole! :thumbs_up: Very :mrgreen: about your stunning Striped Kingfisher with kill pic - have seen them in KTP but have yet to get a pic! :roll:
Thank you jaykay! :D


Miera is indeed stunning

Image


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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:02 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Saturday 17

This morning we went looking for the lion and found them just off the dune road near Kougamma. A troupe of wildebeest came very close to the lion, but they were more interested in sleeping than in hunting.

Lazy lions

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Some movement

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The 'prey'

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As we had heard there were some cheetah activity further north we drove up to 14th again, but saw little. On return to camp had a continental breakfast of bread we made the night before with cautery smoked cold meat bought at Laborie market and Adriatic fig spread from Woolies.

As it was now over 42c, we decided to try and siesta, but it was just too hot. So we found the lions again (still sleeping) and went north again. The friendly PCG was along he road and chatted to us a while. Well he was chatting to someone? On the way we saw two young hyena cubs near the Urikaruus turnoff sleeping in the heat. When a group of wildebeest got too close they caught fright and ran off to the den just over the ridge.

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Jacques joined us for supper, unfortunately it was just Mexican wraps with left-over chicken from the night before. The beer was cold though. The clouds are building and a storm is brewing. A fire has started between Gharagap and Bitterpan, most likely a lightning strike. We can see the glow in the distance.

The sunset at Urikaruus

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Tomorrow we move on to Twee Rivieren and then home. Somehow the 8 days is just too short. We had planned for 18 days but then circumstances shanged ;-(


Last edited by jaykay on Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Difficult KTP Trip
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:38 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 41
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Sunday 18

During the night we had lots of thunder and lightning (very very frightening to quote Queen) and a little rain. At two thirty we were woken by a loud growl under the hut. It was a large leopard making his presence heard. Almost as loud as a lion roar, but different.

As we were leaving today, we had a healthy breakfast of left over canned fruit and custard. At about half past seven three adult hyenas and the cubs we saw the previous night came to drink, or to be more correct, to have a swim. They stayed a while and then left.

Leaving the pool

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Some bird watching

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Little one being cute

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Family photo

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