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Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Hani

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charbel
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Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Hani

Unread postby charbel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:49 am

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.

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I will include this message to test the size of the pic, and then move to more pics in the following messages

Cheers
Charbel
KNP only in 2015

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby Trrp-trrrrrrrr » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:03 am

Charbel,

8) You are back to report on all your adventures in KTP 8)

More than rewarding start you had Leppie, Hyena and tons of awesome sightings. :thumbs_up:

Ready with lots of :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:
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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby charbel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:31 am

The Dune road is so beautiful.

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And Kielikrankie is a special place. If you never went there, include in your plans. First a general view of the cabins from the road and the view of the dunes from the cabin.

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I like this pic: landscape with ostrich, in the dune road leading to the Aoub road.

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And to finish this post, a collection of our Gemsbok pics. Common animal, but we really love them and liked the pics.

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We made several pics of Gemsbok's fights. I particularly like this sequence, fight and surrender. Look how the Gemsbok bends to show with his body that he was defeated, accepting a lower hierarchical rank. It was not a true fight, but more like simulation and play. But much of the hierarchy in animal groups are played out through ritualized simulations and plays. Natural selection favors those that decide hierarchical position by pretending to fight rather than fighting. The reason is simple: fitness decrease happens in true fights, even in the case of those that win.

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Cheers
Charbel
KNP just in 2015 (long time to wait)
Last edited by charbel on Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby charbel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:32 am

Trrp-trrrrrrrr wrote:Charbel,

8) You are back to report on all your adventures in KTP 8)

More than rewarding start you had Leppie, Hyena and tons of awesome sightings. :thumbs_up:

Ready with lots of :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:


Trrp-trrrrrrrrrrr, great to know you're on board. Welcome!

Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby WillieV » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:24 pm

:thumbs_up: I am also on board.
KGALAGADI May 2015

August 2014 short trip to Kgalagadi.

Kgalagadi May 2014 with Lion vs Leopard and the "Love Birds"
http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopi ... 6#p2100926

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby charbel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:31 pm

WillieV wrote::thumbs_up: I am also on board.


Great Willie
Welcome on board. I hope it will be interesting.

Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby charbel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:49 pm

Dear forumites,
A posting for Springboks, other common animals, but always showing nice behaviors to be seen.
We can find them in groups, usually females, cubs, and juveniles, also bachelor herds.

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But we can also find bulls alone, in the middle of its hard-won and hard-defended territory, chasing other males away and evaluating every female that comes by, for reproductive status.

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Here are some details of juvenile Springboks

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And, finally, a glimpse of an intimate moment.

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Cheers
Charbel
Last edited by charbel on Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby hilda » Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:05 pm

Wow Charbel! What a great start to your KTP trip report! Beautiful description of your first day, and awesome pictures of all your sightings so far! Gemsbok and Springbok may be common in the Kgalagadi, but they are such beautiful antelope! :clap: :clap:

Thank you for sharing! :popcorn:
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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby anne-marie » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:04 pm

.:yaya: Charbel you are back... sorry for you, but nice for us :dance:

the car rental you mentioned is certainly the best in the town :thumbs_up:
and Jacques too, a so nice guy :wink:

glad you were happy in the park, and love big and small thing :clap:
and more... a Leopard the first day, wow :dance:

:popcorn:
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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby charbel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:56 pm

hilda wrote:Wow Charbel! What a great start to your KTP trip report! Beautiful description of your first day, and awesome pictures of all your sightings so far! Gemsbok and Springbok may be common in the Kgalagadi, but they are such beautiful antelope! :clap: :clap:

Thank you for sharing! :popcorn:


Dear Hilda
Thanks!!! Yes, they are so beautiful, albeit common, and, as usual, we stayed long times watching them when it was possible, so that we could see a range of behaviors...

Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby charbel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:58 pm

anne-marie wrote:.:yaya: Charbel you are back... sorry for you, but nice for us :dance:

the car rental you mentioned is certainly the best in the town :thumbs_up:
and Jacques too, a so nice guy :wink:

glad you were happy in the park, and love big and small thing :clap:
and more... a Leopard the first day, wow :dance:

:popcorn:


I agree. Kalahari 4 x 4 was great, very nice service, very corteous people, and a Leopard in the first day, after staying 14 days in KNP with no sighting of a Leopard, was really something!

And Jacques, what a special guy!

Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby Trrp-trrrrrrrr » Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:07 am

Charbel,

Those red dunes against the blue sky is just stunning. :clap: :clap: ...accommodation units colours blend in with the dunes. 8)

Stunning pics of the Sprinbok and Gemsbok... :thumbs_up: ...capturing them beautifully. :clap: :clap:

:popcorn:
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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby charbel » Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:39 pm

Trrp-trrrrrrrr wrote:Charbel,

Those red dunes against the blue sky is just stunning. :clap: :clap: ...accommodation units colours blend in with the dunes. 8)

Stunning pics of the Sprinbok and Gemsbok... :thumbs_up: ...capturing them beautifully. :clap: :clap:

:popcorn:


Hi Trrp-trrrrrr,
You got a nice aspect of the pic showing Kielikrankie....
It was our second preferred place where we stayed. The first? Gharagab, no doubt!!!
Strongly recommended, a dream on Earth.

Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby charbel » Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:26 pm

Hi forumites,
Time for a new posting, while I also select pics to show my best childhood friend, who will come in some hours to see the pics, watch the game (Brazil against Spain, Confederations Cup final), and to watch Searching for Sugar Man (great!) and David Attenborough's recent documentary on the Kalahari (stunning!).

An additional bird just identified, which we saw in the first day: Marico Flycatcher.

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Going on with the antelopes and company, some pics of Blue Wildebeests, taken in the first day in KTP.

I like this pic of a Blue Wildebeest checking on another passing companion.

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This guy gave a good look at us while crossing the Aoub road in front of the car.

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And here some mirror Wildebeests.

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Finally, a detail of a Wildebeest face.

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Another astonishingly beautiful animal, which we saw more and more often as we moved north, was the Red Hartebeest. Here are some pics from the first day.

Not a great pic, but it was the very first animal we saw in the park, deserving for this reason its space here.

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Here is a better pic.

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Finally, one of the greatest butts of the Kalahari! Great entry to the yet-to-be-done butt calendar.

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We usually found in KTP one single Blue Wildebeest along with a single Springbok and a single Gemsbok (more occasionally). If we consider that territorial bulls typically stay in their territories, waiting for reproductive females to appear, we can infer that the bulls from different species with overlapping territories can gain advantage from the vigilance of the others, and they evidently do not compete for their territories regarding reproduction. I have to do some more research, however, on the extent that they compete for food. They are all herbivorous, but may have different feeding preferences. Wildebeests, for instance, shows great preference to graze on brand new plants, we saw Springboks browsing besides grazing.... Things to consider while reading the great manual on African animals behavior I just bought:
http://www.amazon.com/Behavior-Guide-Af ... 830&sr=1-1

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This is the best pic (although with some problems) of the Steenbok we saw near Kielikrankie.

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That's it for the moment.

All the best
Charbel
Last edited by charbel on Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread postby vinkie » Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:35 pm

Nice start of your TR :thumbs_up: ...wonder what will follow :hmz:
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Our 2013 Trip Report: Vinkie and Apex Predator back in the bushveld


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