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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:06 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:58 pm
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Excellent pics and reports, thanks Miros.

We're doing the Nossob-Eco trail a week from today :D and are looking forward to perhaps meeting you then. Can't wait to finally be in the Kgalagadi again!

Your reports are definitely helping to make the wait more bearable ... :)

Thanks, Ralf.


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:37 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:21 am
Posts: 749
Location: Sunny Prairies of Canada
Hey G...lovely to read your prose...you paint a lovely picture of KTP...sigh wish I could come and play too.
Just sent a small parcel off to your family...with something for you to chuckle over...just hope the parcel actually gets there...somewhere in SA an errant package which your Mom sent us still wanders..ha.
Love your photos...especially the sunset over Swartbas...stunning.
Snow is gone early here, but would really love to be back in KTP.
Continued success on your 4x4 trips...am enjoying the read!

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:52 am 
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Location: Cape Town
This is so exciting. I now get a much needed dose of Kgalagadi until I can get there myself!!

Thanks for your amazing report and beautiful photos.

:popcorn: :popcorn:

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26 - 28 April Pretoriuskop (First Time Visit)
29-30 April Olifants
1-2 May Mopani
3-4 May Orpen
5-6 May Lower Sabie



Trip Report Photographs and Memories Kruger June 2013


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:32 pm 
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Location: Twee Rivieren, KTP
March 19 – 22

This week, I had a co-pilot on our 4x4 trail! Robert, the new SAN parks guide for Twee Rivieren (and ex-student guide!), came along for the ride. He had run the trail when he had been a student here, and so we worked together to share the hosting duties, while he showed me some additional viewpoints and general tips and tricks to ensure that our guests get the most out of each drive. I was especially glad of his help as this was my largest group yet – a group of 12 South African veld experts (in customized bush vehicles which both Rob and I envied), and a family of 5 from Switzerland who were just starting their South African bush experience.

Our first day was wonderful, and full of a vast array of bird life. Several of our guests were birders, and we managed to spot 3 martial eagles and a tawny eagle en route to the trail. Most our interesting – and unusual – sighting on the main road, however, was a group of white-faced ducks at the kousaunt! These ducks were well out of their standard range (at least according to my now one-edition-out-of-date bird book), and the first time I – or my guests - had seen them outside of Kruger. We’d not had any rain in the past few days, so I’m really unsure why they were doing so far into the park, and away from permanent water.

Once on the trail, our luck with the birds continued, seeing an African wood hoopoe, black shouldered kite, PCGs, and what was either a whalbergs eagle, or a tawny eagle – we couldn’t come to a consensus, and the bird wasn’t helpful enough to perch on any of the nearby trees so we could get a better look at it, insisting on soaring well above our heads. Silly bird.

We also managed to find almost a dozen steenbok this first day, though they were all quite skittish and dove into the bushes nearly as soon as they were spotted. The trail also showed signs of both spotted hyena and lions, with relatively fresh tracks along our route in clear evidence.

We arrived and set up camp for a lovely evening, which remained dry and cooled off nicely after the heat of the day. When we rose the next morning, however, we found that our camp had Been Visited! Three lions had apparently approached the camp in total silence while we slept, with one lioness circling around us to the east, and another two walking along the road to the west of camp, each approaching around 10 metres from our tents, before turning and disappearing into the bush on the far side of the camp. Our guests were amazed that the lions had come and gone without making any noise, and enjoyed looking at the tracks and the paths they had taken to skirt our camp as they investigated this ragtag group of intruders upon their territory.

We left camp slightly earlier then usual and stopped for a proper brunch at Eileen’s pan, enjoying left over braii meat as we watched gemsbok wandering around the pan while bateleurs flew overhead, all while a trio of scaly feathered finches twittered at us from the branches above our heads. Further along the trail, we found ostrich and gemsbok, but otherwise had a warm and quiet day along the trail, settling into Rosyntjiebos for another amazing evening under the African stars.

Our third day started out quite quiet, with only a few sightings: a scorpion menaced us at one of our lookout points, a few steenbok, gemsbok – including one with a curved horn – some ardvaark diggings, and a PCG or two.

This quiet day was why, when we pulled into Witgat to find several fresh sets of lion prints at the waterhole we got quite excited. That excitement increased a hundredfold when one of our sharp-eyed guests pointed out that the lions were in fact still around – in fact, they were sitting smack dab in the middle of our camp!

There was one female sitting by one of the long drops, one by the braii pit, and one under the shade trees in the middle of the camp area. In addition to them, there were also 7 cubs! Four under the tree, and another three sitting right by the road and peering at us quite intently. It was a truly amazing sighting, and the first time I had seen such a large number of cubs in a single pride!

It took both Robb and myself quite some time to determine how to: a) get all of our guests a good view of the lions (the road into Witgat is a dead end, so driving past was not an option) and b) politely suggest to the very large – and obviously very recently and very well fed – group of lions that they spend the night elsewhere.

Thankfully, we managed to arrange so each car in our entourage could drive into the camp site, view the lions at around 15m away, and then get back out again without surrounding the lions or driving all over the dunes – and equally fortunate was that after all of this hubbub the lions decided that we were a noisy and tiresome bunch, and they moved up over the dunes to a safe distance where they could keep an eye on us (and vice versa!)

We moved in and set up camp in a much tighter boma configuration then usual, and spent the evening chatting happily while a nice bonfire burned brightly in the midst of our tables and tents.

We had a rather restless night thanks to the lions – not because of how close they are or because they bothered us in any way, but because we were all hoping to hear them roar while they were so close by. Unfortunately, the lions decided to leave at some time in the night, with only a couple wandering up to the road to peer at us, before turning away and heading back over the dunes and into the desert. All we ended up hearing was one lonely jackal – a lovely sound, but a poor substitute for a lion’s roar to be sure!

And so (slightly bleary eyed), we broke camp and set off on our final day of the trail, enjoying sightings of a cape fox darting into the bush, several herds of gemsbok, steenbok, and both a black-headed heron and a swallow-tailed bee-eater posing for us as we returned to the main road.

Another fantastic trail completed!

I’ll edit this post to add pictures, which I’m afraid I’m somewhat behind on. =/

_________________
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

Miros Photography on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gbfootprints/


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:35 pm 
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Location: Twee Rivieren, KTP
March 26-29

Our first day was a beautiful one, with large puffy clouds dotting the sky throughout the day, while never quite becoming ominous enough to make us worry about rain. The game was hiding from us, unfortunately – likely hiding and exhausted after all the excitement of last week.

Nevertheless, the birds were still out in force, and we found white storks and a white-backed vulture en route to the trail, and a black shouldered kite, multiple PCGs, and both black and red-crested korhaans while en route to Swartbas. As for animals themselves, we only managed to find gemsbok and steenbok this first day, but had high hopes for what the rest of the trail would bring us.

On arrival at camp, I had a look around to see if there was any more lion activity since we’d been here last, but from the looks of things the lions had not returned, and the rains that had hit the camp in our absence had washed away all signs of their passing. However, we did manage to find some tracks of a Brown Hyena, which had wandered through the night before our arrival, checking out the camp before wandering away west to continue on the patrol of its territory.

As the sun dipped towars the horizon, the wind picked up and a thick layer of cloud rolled in. We kept a wary eye on the clouds and worked quickly to produce dinner, but we were lucky that the rain held until we were in bed.

Once that happened, however, the skies opened up, and it rained. And it rained. And it rained.

It wasn’t a severe downpour,. But rather a constant steady rain, the likes of which I’ve not before seen in the Kalahari. It started raining at around 2am, and didn’t cease until 4pm, shortly after we had arrived at the next camp.

The second day, aside from being quite damp and cool, was actually quite good for sightings. Rain is wonderful for predators – the cooler weather means they are active longer, and the rain dampens both their smell and the sound of their approach, meaning that all manor of predators are able to sneak up on their prey much more easily then during dry weather.

We broke camp at Swartbas a little later then planned – in the hopes the rain would break and our tents could dry before we left – and headed over to Eileen’s pan for tea. This was the first time that I’ve seen actual standing water sitting in the pan, and it was an impressive sight to show my guests as we sat in our trucks drinking coffee and watching a group of red hartebeest frolic and play in the rain, chasing each other back and forth across the pan quite near to our convoy.

We continued on past the pan, and were rewarded for tolerating the dampness of the day, finding a male cheetah that ran along beside our vehicles for a bit, before turning and walking back around behind us and over the dunes. Full credit for this sighting goes to my guests, one of whom spotted only the briefest of silhouettes on top of a dune which I missed completely, before he ran down into the valley we were driving along. We also spotted a steenbok in the same valley, just on the opposite side of the road from the cheetah, and we think we may have accidentally spoilt his hunt! Sadly, this guy was a little skittish, and spent most of the time hiding behind some bushes from my position in the front, so while my guests were able to get some excellent pictures, I wasn’t able to capture any.

After the cheetah disappeared behind us and we moved on, we decided to tackle Bertha, the largest, softest, most s-curved dune on the trail. It’s a dune we occasionally skip in very hot weather, as the softness of the sand makes it nearly impossible to concur, even for the most powerful 4x4 vehicles. However, with the cool temperature and fairly good soaking the dune was getting from the constant rain, we managed to set a record that will likely stand for quite some time: of all 5 vehicles, all but one made it up on their first time – and the one that missed made it easily on their second! Considering this dune is the only one the trail with an “escape route” that goes around t due to the difficulty of the climb, this is an amazing achievement. I’d love to credit the achievement to the skill and excellent advice of the guide, but the weather probably had more to do with it.

We pulled into camp with the rain still going strong, surrounded by thick rainclouds and no sign of releaf anywhere on the horizon. So, we did what every camper knows is the surest way of getting rain to stop in a hurry: we set up every tarpaulin we had.

Sure enough, the rain stopped not 30 minutes later, ending a 14 hour stretch of unbroken showers, and leaving Rosyntjiebos a maze of tent poles, rope, and bungee cord.

Camp that night was remarkably peaceful and quiet. The rain held off all night, and we enjoyed a respite from the constant rain, sitting around a bonfire (started by using the last dry bag of wood we possessed) and trying to spot stars that managed to peek between the clouds (we only spotted 6).

Our third day dawned cool and quite overcast, but we were mostly just happy that it dawned dry. The rain from the day before had washed away all signs of tracks prior to our arrival, and we didn’t find any new ones that had come through camp in the evening. So we set off on our third day of adventure towards Witgat.

Our third day’s sightings were incredible, and seemed as though trying to make up for the rather miserable day in the rain we had experienced. Bird life included a rock kestrel, kori bustards, 2 adult bateleurs and one juvenile, and more pale chanting goshawks you could shake a stick at!

But of these bird sightings, two stood out as truly remarkable. First, we found two pale chanting goshawks mobbing and divebombing a tawny eagle, which is the first time I’ve seen a bird as large as a PCG actually doing the mobbing, rather then being mobbed by smaller birds. It was an amazing sighting, and only 75 meters off of the road, affording us an excellent view of the tawny trying to duck into the braches of a tree every time the goshawks came screaming down at it out of the sky.

The second amazing sighting was spotting a pair of secretary birds and a juvenile PCG following a honey badger along the dunes. This was the first time I’ve ever seen secretary birds following a badger around – even the first time I’ve heard of such a thing happening! The PCGs and jackals are well known to follow the badgers around in the hopes of snatching up an easy meal that the badger digs up but fails to catch, but I didn’t expect secretary birds to follow the same behaviour! Another amazing sighting that, unfortunately, happened too fast for me to get my camera ready before the birds and the badger made it up and over the crest of a nearby dune.


Beyond the bird life, we also saw plenty of steenbok and gemsbok, found a fresh set of African wild cat prints at our lunch site, and a black backed jackal dashed off along a dune as we came roaring over the top.

We pulled into Witgat camp and immediately turned the area into a field of drying items, as we all aired out those items of ours which were still damp from the rains our second day. I took an extra long walk around to make sure that the lion pride which had decided to claim their camp as their own were nowhere around, and saw no clear signs of them – of course, the rains had washed away all signs of everything that had been in the camp, so all I could be sure of was that they hadn’t been around earlier that day!

We enjoyed about an hour of sun in the camp until the thick grey clouds rolled in for a second time, but we decided to live dangerously and left the tarps in our vehicles. On our last night, mother nature decided to play games with us, raining every so often, but just long and hard enough to send us scurrying for cover before stopping.

The fourth day dawned with a bright blue sky overhead – our first day without a single cloud in the sky! We started by heading down to the waterhole, and found some fresh tracks – lions from before the rain, and brown hyena after the rain let up! We were quite excited by this finding, even though we hadn’t seen the animals themselves, as the prints were wonderfully fresh and clear thanks to the damp sand.

Our final day was also quite good for sightings as we made our way to the end of the trail, spotting plenty of steenboks, kori bustards, PCGs, and gemsbok, as well as a rock kestrel, tawny eagle, 2 black-backed jackals, ostrich, and the tracks of an African wild cat.

All in all, a truly excellent trail!

I’ll be adding pictures next week – I’m a bit behind in my photoshopping! Off on another trail tomorrow – until next time!

_________________
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

Miros Photography on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gbfootprints/


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:49 pm 
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wow ! superb trails... Lions, Cheetah, Badger etc...
thanks for the narration :D

from which part of Switzerland was your guests ?... they speak German or French or Italien :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:18 pm 
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You write beautifully Miros :clap: :clap:

Thank you :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:24 am 
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Miros, we will be joining you for the trail on the 28th to the 31st May. We are in the final planning stages, but are undecided on what to pack for meals(Supper) for the 3 nights er are on the trail? Does everyone do a communual Braai or do the parties each individually cook their own meals. I dont want to pitch and have Braai, Pasta and Stew when everyone else Braai's. Could you advise please?


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:40 am 
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Location: Twee Rivieren, KTP
@Defender TAZ,

Welcome to the forum, hope you will have a great time here.

Regarding your question about the Braai's. Guests normally do have a communal braai where everybody enjoy a meal together, each participant does cook their own meal but do sit around the fire and enjoy it together there has been instances where guests would do their own thing according to their preferences. It all depends on each guests and what you would like to do on the trail.


See you soon.

KG

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Welcome to the forum Defender TAZ.

I would also take along a meal that does not require a fire/braai, because one night we were on the trail it was too windy to risk a fire.

I suggested that the trail cost include braai wood, which the guide should bring along, but I don't know whether that has happened, so bring along some braai wood as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:34 pm 
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Hi Defender TAZ,

Welcome to the forum and I hope you will have a great time on the trip end May. It should not be too hot then, but maybe a bit chilly at night.

As BB mentioned you need to bring along your own wood to braai and water for drinking and washing on the trip.

We decided to keep the dishes to a minimum to safe on water and opted for braai only. It can caught you off-side so add a few cans of tin food and pasta plus a small hiking pot to heat up in case the conditions are not right for a fire. At least you don't have to eat Toppers and Mash, but try to add easy prepare food into your kitty. Some nice cheese, salami, biltong etc depending on what you like.

We did not take a gas cooker along and sponged a bit on the other guys in the group for hot water, but a small hiking stove can work or try to organise with the other people on who will take what.

Our vehicle was a Nissan Pathfinder and we had no luxury of extra packing space in the back as the case of bakkies. We had to fit the ground tent / water / fridge / food in the small space at the back. There was not even space for wood, but luckily the guide helped out to take the wood in his car. :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:54 am 
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KG, BP and SG, than you for the replies. I will definately prepare for a "NON Braai" in case of weather or other circumstances. Other than that I am well prepared with an overlanding Land Rover Defender. We will get wood before entering the park at the the chap reccomended by KG (house with two busses) The Echo trail is just part of our trip. We will be staying at TR, KK, Nossob, Polentswa and Garaghab over the 2 week period. So now I suppose that I am registered o the forum, I can now display a yellow ribbon?


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:07 am 
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Location: Twee Rivieren, KTP
Yip....now you can show your YR.

Would be great to meet up once you are here.

KG

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:12 am 
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Welcome to the forum Defender TAZ - hope you have an amazing time in KTP and enjoy the Eco Trail - its stunning :thumbs_up: and please can I ask a favour for all us Defender drivers who have tried and failed - please get over Big Bertha for us :pray: :slap:

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:40 am 
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Scouter, Ill certainly do my best... 2nd Lowrange, tyres 1 bar or even 0.8 bar :big_eyes: Have done a lot of sand driving in Moz, but I dont think the sand is as dry as it is in the Kalahari, so Im up for the challenge


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