Back from 13 incredible days in KTP, time to begin a trip report. The trip was really great. Found two forumites Jill and BluTuna, which was very nice. We were lucky to see a wide diversity of predators, including night ones. And nice scenes of animal behavior was delight for Pedro and me, both researchers dealing with animal behavior, among other topics.
The title of the TR reflects the fact that we love both the big and the small animals, being as excited to see a lion as we are to see a small Four Striped Grass Mouse.
We arrived late in June 1st, although before the gate closed. So, no game drive for June 1st, only a nice dinner in Twee Rivieren. Accommodations were nice, no bat problems, good food, a nice first night, still not cold (coldness would eventually come in the next days). The sad part was the large number of Bat-Eared Foxes dead in the road from Upington to Kgalagadi.
June 2nd we left at 7:30. The previous days I had phoned Kgalagadi Guru to tell him I arrived in time, so that he didn't need to help me with the gate. South African delayed our flight in more than one hour, robbing us some precious time for traveling. But things were fast with the car rental (very good service by Kalahari 4 x4, thanks, Lion Queen, for the indication). Kgalagadi Guru gave us a clue, however, about meerkat dens close to the road in Leeudril. So, we changed our plans, originally to go directly to the Aoub road, and went up the Nossob road to Leeudril instead. The den was quite visible, but the meerkats were nowhere to be seen. Still early cold morning for them. But meerkats were faithful on us later, appearing quite often.
After reaching Leeudril, to some Namaqua Sandgrouse show, we came back to the Aoub road and headed to Kielikrankie, where we would sleep that dat. but when we reached Houmoed, I noticed we forgot to give back the keys in the reception. So, back to Twee Rivieren. Finally we went up the Aoub road and the lower Dune road, to Kielikrankie, where we arrived by the end of the afternoon.
Some animals were everywhere to be seen, as you know: Sociable Weavers, White-Browed Sparrow Weavers, Pae Chanting Goshawks, Gemsboks, Springboks, Ostriches, Fork-Tailed Drongos, Blue Wildebeests.
We also saw Red Hartebeests and a Steenbok in the way to Leeudril, Crowned Lapwings in several places, the same for Cape Glossy Starlings. A Tawny Eagle was also in the way to Leeudril. In the waterhole, lots of Namaqua Sandgrouses.
In Samevloeiing, the Elande carcasses were still there, as well as in other parts of the park.
Before Houmoed, we found our first (very active) Meerkats, along with Ground Squirrels. Quite funny to see all their interactions.
When heading back to Twee Rivieren to give back, we saw our only Secretary Bird in the whole trip.
In Twee Rivieren, we saw more Ground Squirrels and a Yellow Mongoose.
Back to Houmoed, besides the usual animals, Meerkats were in the same spot again, with the Squirrels. And we saw a Fawn-Coloured Lark.
Kori Bustards met us for the first time in the way to Kamfersboom. We would eventually see them everywhere. In the same road, we found more Ground Squirrels, an African Red-Eyed Bulbul, Cape Black Crows (also very common), and another Fawn-Coloured Lark.
The picnic spot in Auchterlonie was great to rest. And we visited the museum and walked down the historical pathways, both pleasant experiences.
But the best of the day was still to come. Soon after Auchterlonie, before reaching the Dune road, we found 5 Spotted Hyenas in the rocks above, resting besides some rocks, and with a cub. We also witnessed all the tension in the air when three Gemsboks came and the Hyenas raised staring at them. The Gemsboks stopped. For a while we thought we would see our first hunt, but the Hyenas came back to rest, The Gemsboks hesitated and then turned away... Better not to take chances with the Hyenas.
The Lower Dune Road was a pleasure in itself, so scenic and beautiful. We only saw a Steenbok in our way to the camp, where we were very well received by Jacques, very friendly and competent.
The dune cabin in Kielikrankie was amazing, so clean and tidy, beautifully built, and with such an astonishing, breathtaking view to the dunes and the waterhole below. And we could see it from kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, balcony, everywhere. Really great!
But the end of the day still had a surprise! When we were unpacking, Pedro came to the cabin telling me there was a Leopard in the road, coming to the camp, after passing close to him. We ran to watch it, but it was already hidden behind some bushes. Jacques took us to his cabin to look to the animal, also showing us Lion footprints just besides his cabin... The leopard didn't come out, and we went back to unpack... Around 20 minutes later, Jacques called us to tell that the Leopard had gone to the waterhole. We watched and there he (or she) was, drinking from the waterhole. Then he calmly walked past the camp, marked some trees in front of the cabins, and drifted back to the savanna.... Great!!!! First day with Hyenas and Leopards, along with Meerkats and all sorts of big and small things... Very rewarding.
The night was pleasant, with a good dinner, and some rounds of watching the waterhole from the balcony.... But it was freezing. We used all our winter clothes and stayed in the balcony as much as we could. Then we came back to the blankets. The night went quite well, freezing outside, nice below the blankets....
This is the full description of the first day. Now let's move to some pics, for several messages until reaching the second day. The equipment was: for me, a Canon Rebel with two lens, the regular 18-55mm (which I barely used) and a 55-250mm. For Pedro, a Canon sx50hs. Quite different cameras, but this was great, since it increased the range of what we could do. Next time I travel to SA, this time KNP, I'll buy an additional powershot cannon camera and additional lens for my Rebel.
First pic: me in the Auchterlonie open field museum.
I will include this message to test the size of the pic, and then move to more pics in the following messages
KNP only in 2015