Knowing the wilderness camps booked up early, I started planning over a year in advance, and once again Jeremy Williamson of Far & Wild Safaris in Durban helped out by making the bookings for us. We weren’t sure of the exact place to meet the BFC group until a month out, so I left that open and made some late reservations a week in advance.
Final itinerary was:
24 October fly LAX-JNB
25 October overnight at Aviator Hotel, JNB
26 October fly to Upington, overnight Twee Rivieren
27 October Twee Rivieren (couldn’t get Urikaruus)
28 October Urikaruus
29 October Kalahari Tented Camp
30 October Kalahari Tented Camp
31 October Nossob chalet
1 November Grootkolk (could only get 1 night)
2 November Mata Mata riverfront chalet
3 November Mata Mata riverfront chalet
4 November Twee Rivieren
5-6 November De Herberg Lodge, De Aar
7 November Seldre Guesthouse, Nigel
8 November Berg En Dal
9 November Skukuza
10-12 November “Metsi-Metsi” walking trail (really Nwatimwambu Fly Camp)
13-14 November Lower Sabie safari tent
15-16 November Satara
17-19 November Sweni Trail
20-22 November Olifants
23-24 November Tamboti
25 November Biyamiti (switch late from Tamboti, because it was available, and concerned about long drive)
26-28 November Notten’s Bush Camp (Sabi Sands)
29-30 November JNB-LAX
I read many many trip reports in the year of waiting, getting great advice like shopping online at the Pick N Pay website and emailing a list to the Upington manager to have ready for us. We bought 2 small coolers and 2 plastic storage bins to hold our food, which worked out well.
The flights were long as usual, the night at the Aviator helped with the time change. We had out first Savannah ciders while trying to understand cricket. The breakfast buffet was great, and then back to the airport for the 60-seat Airlink flight to Upington. Rose and Sokkies the cat at the Budget counter greeted us. We reserved a Nissan X-trail, to have higher clearance and space for all our stuff. We didn’t realize until we were on our way that it didn’t have cruise control, which was a pain – we put 8000 km on that vehicle! Driving a stick shift from the wrong side of the car is always fun, as neither of us regularly drive a manual car, but with a few reminders to stay left we had no issues. We actually have only electric cars at home, a Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, so buying petrol again was unusual.
The JNB-UTN flight landed at 12:30, so I ‘m glad we had most of our groceries picked out in advance. However we should have checked it more closely as we had two bottles of conditioner and no shampoo! The drive to KTP was on pretty good roads, with raptors and weaver nests to see (besides the goats, donleys, horses, and an emu). Closer to the park we saw a few springbok and an ostrich.
KTP is essentially two dry riverbeds that meet at Twee Rivieren (Two Rivers), the Auob and Nossob valleys. The Nossob is also the border between South Africa and Botswana. There are campsites and some new lodges on the Botswana side, but we only stayed in the chalets on the South African side. All the roads are sand or gravel. There are three main camps that have shops and fuel (Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata, and Nossob).
We didn’t arrive at Twee Rivieren until 5 pm, so we signed up for the sunset drive for our first night. We also met Rob, a Dutch man camping with his wife & two sons – we would run into them a lot during our stay. We quickly unpacked into chalet #26.
Robert was our ranger, and we soon saw some of the common KTP residents – springbok, wildebeest, and oryx (gemsbok).
We also learned about the camelthorn pod tree, vomit bush, and saw a tawny eagle nest. There is a giant eagle owl nest close to the road:
Given our volunteer work, we are unashamedly cat-crazy, so we were ecstatic when we saw a family of 4 cheetah by spotlight up on a dune (just south of Leeuwedril). We came to KTP hoping for good cheetah sightings in particular, and this was a good start.
The next morning we were waiting at 6 for the gates to open, having reduced the tire pressures as recommended. We saw black-backed jackal near Samevloeling:
Ostrich up on the dunes:
Lion tracks in the road
and our first two (of 10 total for KTP) bat-eared foxes
The roads were in decent condition; we would be very lucky and have the graders active our entire trip, often driving newly graded or dragged roads.
The springbok were posing in the morning light
The Nossob looked very dry
While I like raptors, I am not good at identifying them; tawny eagle or buzzard?
Sociable weaver nests, which often break the trees