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Kgalagadi Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail

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Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:10 am Unread post
lion queen - silly me - I should have made the connection to this forum when we met at Kieliekrankie. Drat! I would have thanked you personally for the 4x4 rental recommendation. You may have noticed our vehicle in the parking lot at Kieliekrankie - we did take you up on the suggestion you gave us and it worked out very well. The tent was comfy and kept us dry, and the 4x4 helped us over all of the trickier dunes. My apologies for the oversight and thank you again for the recommendation.

We had a great time on the 4x4 trail with Graham - I will post a report and photos here shortly - my DH is just working on the photos.

It was lovely to meet you! Robin
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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:15 am Unread post
It was a pleasure Robin!!!

and I made fresh :popcorn: :popcorn: can't wait to see those :cam: :cam:


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:03 pm Unread post
me too, I'm ready :popcorn:


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Sun May 06, 2012 11:26 am Unread post
April 23 – 26

Our first day dawned bright and clear as we set off for the trail. I had 5 cars with me – another full group! The turnout over the last month has been very high – for our trails and for the morning/night drives, all of which has kept me busy and out in the bush – exactly where I want to be!

We set out for the trail and managed to get several excellent sightings en route to the trail. At Leeudril we spotted a couple of black-backed jackals wandering around and investigating our ‘wandering termite mound’ (aka camera trap). They were quite agreeable and posed for us for a few minutes before we continued on. More exciting was our sighting just on the other side of Kij Kij, where we found a small pride of lions basking in the sun looking extremely fat. Only one even bothered to look up as we sat and took pictures of the bunch, the others completely blessed out and in various feline poses of laziness.

Once on the trail, we had the usual accompaniment of game: ostrich, plenty of gemsbok, PCGs flying overhead, steenbok cowering in the bushes, and two black-backed jackals fleeing from our convoy and over the dunes. The most exciting sighting we had was spotted by one of my eagle-eyed guests: a cape cobra investigating a sociable weaver’s nest! We hopped out and watched as the snake wound its way around the tree, keeping way back in case it fell. Amusingly, of all the guests I had, the only two who didn’t want to stand under a tree holding a relatively dangerous snake were the two South African men who looked like semi-pro rugby players! (They claimed they were “allergic to snake bites”!) =D

The one downside of having a very busy month of trails: the dunes are getting rougher! The main reason why we change directions every month (TW to Nossob, and then Nossob to TW) is to help smooth out the bumps and ruts we create by bouncing up and over the dunes. The trail, as it stands now, is certainly getting more and more challenging – we’re getting tossed about and putting our shocks to the test!

We arrived at camp and found a beautiful set of hyena tracks wandering through the camp site, and down to the Witgat waterhole. We also discovered that our shower station had suffered greatly from the last thunderstorm, snapping the thick tree trunk that would normally hoist the shower bag! Thankfully, it was nothing a little manpower, rope, and wire couldn’t fix, and we had everything functional before the sun set.

We rose with the sun on our second day and found a fresh set of lion tracks wandering around the outskirts of our camp. It looked like the lioness came to check out our braii pit before continuing down towards the waterhole and off into the dunes.

After filling our waterbottles from the pump for Witgat’s waterhole (The water is amazing! Freshest in the park!), we spotted a pair of namaqua sand grouse and the black-headed heron flying nearby. They were clearly waiting for us to leave the waterhole, so we started up and headed off into the dunes.

Our second day was quite good for sightings, with frequent groups of gemsbok, steenbok, and PCGs. Added to the mix was a herd of hartebeest which were extremely cooperative, standing in the sun for us while we took pictures and the youngsters peered at us. We also spotted a black-chested snake eagle and a red-necked falcon, who both flew over our convoy while we peered at them from below.

We pulled into camp on the second day and set up camp while the sun slowly sank towards the horizon. We found a set of hyena tracks walking through the camp, looking as though it had wandered through the night before, and we hoped that they might still be in the area so that we might be able to hear them calling in the distance.

Unfortunately, mother nature had other things in mind, and we watched as a large thunderstorm made our way towards us while we ate dinner. We managed to time it perfectly: I quite literally closed the zips on my tent just seconds before the rain started to come down in earnest.

The rain and lightning continued until the early hours of the morning, and it was only then that we heard the jackals calling their dismay at the soaking they had received. The third day dawned cool and – thankfully – dry, and we were quite pleased to see that the sky had cleared. We had a look around camp for any prints, and were able to find fresh tracks of an African wild cat nearby, but nothing larger that had come through the camp in the night.

We set off on the trail and almost instantly had an excellent cheetah sighting! Only 5km out of camp, we saw a lone cheetah sitting sentinel on top of the dune. She was quite cooperative, and sat peering at our convoy from the safety of her perch for a good half hour while we admired her, before she lay down in the shade of a nearby tree.

We continued on and had several other excellent sightings along the trail, including the permanent herds of gemsbok and hartebeest in Eileen’s pan, a spotted eagle owl flying from tree to tree, a bateleur flying overhead, several pale chanting goshawks, and an ostrich that fled quickly over the dunes.

We arrived at Swartbos and I had only just hopped out of the truck to walk my animal check walk when one of my guests radioed to say that a cape cobra had scurried across the trail just in front of them! Two snakes on a single trail! I also managed to find tracks of both a lioness and the resident brown hyena wandering across the camp, but both sets of tracks had been made before the rains came, and I didn’t find any tracks that were extremely fresh.

We set up camp in slightly breezy conditions, but after the rains from the night before, the sand was still quite damp, and none of us were minding the wind, as it kept the humidity and heat in check.

Our last night was nice a quiet, with some jackals calling in the distance, but otherwise uneventful. We rose and set off on our final day, finding several steenbok, hartebeest, PCGs and gemsbok lining our route to the end of the trail.


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Sun May 06, 2012 11:51 am Unread post
Howdy all!

I didn't have a trail run this week, so I had some time to edit some of the pictures I've had sitting in my queue! Enjoy!

Robert analyzing some tracks with our guests:
Image
TIMG_6974 - Identifying Tracks by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Robert talking about the Silver Cluster Leaves:
Image
TIMG_7032 - Admiring the View by Miros Photography, on Flickr

From my most recent trail, the female cheetah overlooking the trail:
Image
TIMG_7461 - Cheetah on the Ridge by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Image
TIMG_7447 - Secretary Bird on Nest by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Why do I get to be in the lead all the time? Well... this is one reason:
Image
TIMG_7413 - Aardvark's Hole in our Road by Miros Photography, on Flickr

A Familiar Chat who has taken up residence at Swartbos:
Image
TIMG_7398 - Safety by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Jackal prints wandering through Swartbos:
Image
TIMG_7379 - Black-backed Jackal Print by Miros Photography, on Flickr

A praying mantis that entertained some of the guests' children one morning:
Image
TIMG_7371 - Mantis by Miros Photography, on Flickr

A sunset shot at Swartbos:
Image
TIMG_7361 - Silhouettes by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Lions spotted en route to the trail one week:
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TIMG_7344 - Lion in the Grass by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Caracal prints!
Image
TIMG_7300 - Caracal print by Miros Photography, on Flickr

A Jackal beside the trail:
Image
TIMG_7297 - Black-backed Jackal by Miros Photography, on Flickr

A sunrise in Witgat:
Image
TIMG_7228 - Blanket of Cloud at Sunrise by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Witgat camp! Taken the same week as the lion visit we had to the camp (below)
Image
TIMG_7208_PAN - Witgat by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Three shots of the lions that were sitting in Witgat when Rob and I arrived. There were 10 in total - three females and 7 youngish cubs:
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TIMG_7185 - The Pride of Witgat 1 by Miros Photography, on Flickr

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TIMG_7197 - The Pride of Witgat 2 by Miros Photography, on Flickr

Image
TIMG_7176 - Lurking by Miros Photography, on Flickr (That's our shower station in the background!)

A sunrise in Rosyntjiebos:
Image
TIMG_7125_HDR-PNTRLY - Sunrise over the Kalahari by Miros Photography, on Flickr

And a sunset at the same camp:
Image
TIMG_7116 - In the Weeds by Miros Photography, on Flickr

And, finally, a really (really) large panorama of the view from atop Bertha (for those of who who didn't make it up :wink: )
Image
TIMG_7068_PAN - The view from atop Bertha by Miros Photography, on Flickr (click through for a larger version)


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Sun May 06, 2012 1:32 pm Unread post
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Awesome!!!!!


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Sun May 06, 2012 1:53 pm Unread post
Hi Miros :D Well, we are back home again and I just wanted to say how great it was to meet you last week - thanks for the lekker night drive last Friday night and for sharing our lunch on Saturday :thumbs_up: Found any interesting footprints in your garden lately ???

Your photos are absolutely stunning :clap: :clap: - especially love those sunrise/sunset ones - they are incredible ... and thanks for showing us Robert hard at work too :lol: They do help to pass the time till the next visit ( only 6 weeks to go :whistle: )

Keep well and hope to see you again soon !


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Sun May 06, 2012 2:51 pm Unread post
:hmz: So they are hiding at Witgat. :shock: Looked all over the place for them. :lol:
:thumbs_up: Miros 8) Nice :cam:

Where on a map is Witgat? :hmz:


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Sun May 06, 2012 6:24 pm Unread post
wow superb Miro :clap: thanks a lot :D


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Tue May 15, 2012 3:30 pm Unread post
Superb Miro, you are lucky indeed.
When writing the trail review (May edition of SA4x4) I found myself longing to return.
Least I will be up there for a few days in June 


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Thu May 17, 2012 1:33 pm Unread post
I have posted a trip report and many photos from our April 2012 adventure on the Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail with Miros here:

viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=62197


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Thu May 31, 2012 4:26 pm Unread post
May 7-10

After a week’s break, I was back out on the trail again, and – as it’s a new month - we swapped to running the trail from north to south once again. I set out from twee rivieren in the wee hours of the morning to meet my guests at Nossob for 9am.

We set out on our first day, and had quite a lot of luck with our birds, spotting on fewer then 4 bateleur eagles flying near to our convoy at various parts of the trail. These guys are always interesting to watch as they fly around, their short tails making their flight patterns look rather perilous. We also saw the usual complement of pale chanting goshawks, steenbok, gemsbok, and ostrich on our way to Swartbos.

We arrived at camp this first night with plenty of time to set up camp and relax, enjoying the shade and the view that this lovely camp offers. I must admit that Swartbos is likely my favourite of the three camps: three large sweet thorn trees circle the fire pit, giving the camp a nice cozy feel – and plenty of shade to hide from the heat.

I did my usual circuit to check for tracks and came up empty handed. There were plenty of gemsbok prints, but I found no sign of our usual lion or hyena visitors, however there was a fair amount of gusting wind this first day, so it may have been simply that all of the tracks had been blown clear.

The night was beautifully clear, giving us an excellent view of the ‘supermoon’ phenomenon (when the moon is full and at the closest point of it’s elliptical orbit at the same time – a once-a-year occurrence!). It was wonderfully bright once the moon came up, which seemed to make the jackals happy, as they called throughout the night and well into the morning!

We did find some tracks through camp the next morning, but only the jackals of the night before. No signs of my usual brown hyena visitor! Hopefully he’ll return next week.

We set off on a breezy second day and had quite a few very good bird sightings. Aside from the usual compliment of PCGs, we also found two black shouldered kites, spectacled mousebirds, swallow-tailed bee-eaters, both species of korhaan, and a few ant-eating chats along our path. We also spotted two cape vultures in a tree above a pair of jackals – clearly there had been some kind of action near by, but we were unable to find any other sign of it!

We had a very nice bunch at Eileen’s Pan, watching and being watched by the resident gemsbok and hartebeest, as well as a small complement of ostrich (two males and three females) who have hopefully moved into the neighbourhood! Along the rest of the trail, we managed to find more gemsbok and hartebeest, as well as a few steenbok and another group of ostrich.

We pulled into camp in the mid afternoon and enjoyed a cool afternoon. Summer is definitely over, with temperatures only just peaking above the 30’s. This is the perfect time of year: after the sweltering heats of February and March have broken, and before the frigid overnight chills of July and August have rolled in.

In camp, we found several lion tracks as well as a single hyena track that had wandered through the camp at least a day or two ago. With the winds we had been having, it was hard to properly age how old they were, but they had clearly passed through at some point over the weekend, giving us hope that they were still in the area and may decide to visit us – or at least sing for us in the distance!

Luckily, the lions were happy enough to oblige us, and we could hear them calling far in the distance from the safety of our beds that night. Unfortunately, they didn’t decide to come and investigate our camp in the night, and neither did anything else! There were no prints other then our own when we looked in the morning, aside from a few mice that ran about the area.

Our third day dawned clear and calm, though the wind started to pick up as soon as we got underway again. Our third day was just as action packed as the last, seeing plenty of PCGs, hartebeest, gemsbok, steenbok and kori bustards. Above those usual animals, we also spotted a trio of African grey hornbills, and African hoopoe, as well as a red-necked falcon soaring over the dunes.

But by far the best sighting of the day was a lone male kudu! This is not only the first kudu I’ve seen on the trail, but the first one I’ve seen in the park! My guests – fresh from Addo – seemed less then impressed, but I was quite thrilled to see this fairly rare animal in our park. They are occasionally spotted around nossob, but we were a good 50km south of there by this point. He was wonderfully relaxed as well, watching us as we peered at him only about 15 meters away. I figured that there should be a group of females in the area, but we couldn’t find any sign of them, so after snapping some photos we moved on.

We arrived at Witgat and were greeted by the resident black-headed heron. We had a good look around the camp and the waterhole, but there were no fresh tracks to be found – though with the amount of wind we’d been having, it’s entirely possible that they’d all been blown out. The sand throughout the camp was nearly spotless!

The night was quiet, and we rose in the hopes of finding prints, but found that nothing had come through the camp overnight – and the waterhole was equally unchanged! I had set up the camera trap the day before, so hopefully we’ll catch some animals coming through with that after leaving it for a couple of weeks.

We set off on our last day of the trail – being watched by the camp’s resident black-headed heron – and had quite an excellent range of sightings to close out our experience on the trail. Most amusing was watching when the aforementioned heron was unceremoniously chased off by a pale chanting goshawk as we pulled away from camp, to much dismayed squawking! Aside from that, we also saw several kori bustards, secretary birds, swallow-tailed bee-eaters, an African hoopoe, two black-backed jackals wandering through the bush, as well as the usual complement of steenbok, gemsbok, and ostrich.

Another excellent trail!


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Thu May 31, 2012 5:05 pm Unread post
:thumbs_up: Great to have the feedback Miros :thumbs_up:


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:37 am Unread post
May 14 – 17

Our first day started out fairly cool in Nossob, but was thankfully nice and warm by the time we pulled onto the start of the trail. This trail, unfortunately, started with a sad note, as we passed a puff adder that had only very recently met its doom on the road. The adder was massive – easily one of the fattest I’d ever seen – and easily a meter long, but sadly it didn’t manage to escape the tires of someone’s bucky.

A happier find, however, was a relatively fresh set of porcupine tracks right near one of the waterholes. The porcupine was long gone – of course – but it was fantastic to be able to show my guests the very clear pads, claws and quill marks of one of the more elusive animals in the bush.

Once on the trail we managed to find a great assortment of animal life – even in this section of the trail which is usually quite quiet! We found a large herd of gemsbok (30+ animals!), a rock kestrel, several northern black korhaan, swallow-tailed bee-eaters flying overhead during our lunch stop, kori bustards, steenbok, plenty of PCGs, and the tracks of both a leopard and a brown hyena wandering along the trail!

We pulled into camp in the clear afternoon to find that it had rained at some point in the last few days – not much, but enough to spatter the sand with that familiar pattern. I also found another set of brown hyena tracks wandering through the camp – wherever our usual visitor was last week, he seems to be back!

We set up camp and had a wonderful evening in camp, listening to the jackals calling in the distance while we ate and turned in to what was to be a rather cool evening. We didn’t hear anything but jackals overnight, and when we looked the following morning we could only find the tracks of one of the jackals coming in to check out our camp.

We set off on our second day in the bright, cold dawn and headed to Eileen’s pan for a wonderful brunch overlooking the salt pan. Our usual gemsbok and hartebeest herds were nowhere to be seen this week, but we did get to watch some ostrich and a solitary gemsbok wander around the pan while my guests whipped together a feast of bacon and eggs – quite extravagant for the bush!

Along trail we managed to find a set of African hoopoes, a scimitar bill, secretary bird, PCGs, and some namauqa sand grouse in terms of bird life, as well as the requisite herds of gemsbok, solitary steenbok, as well as a jackal running around the bush. We pulled into camp after a slight delay due to having to pause for an emergency tire repair exercise – my first flat out on the trail! – and had a wonderful evening around the fire.

Our second night was quite chilly, the temperature dropping to +1oC before we turned into bed. Winter is definitely descending upon us, and the wide open landscape around rosjankiebos does little to help hold in the heat. We huddled around the fire and enjoyed an otherwise lovely calm evening with a beautiful view of the stars above us.

It took a fair amount of effort to leave my nice warm sleeping bag on our third day – especially after I noticed that there was a fair coating for frost on the inside of my roof-top tent! But after braving the first hour of chilly temperatures the veld started to warm up nicely as the rising sun chased away the chill. The hot cup of coffee also likely played a role!

We set off on our third day towards Witgat after not being able to find any prints in camp and headed out along the trail. We had another good bird day, spotting two African hoopoes, PCGs, several kori bustards, and a small group of ostrich. By far, however, the most exciting sighting was spotting the Black-breasted snake eagle flying right overhead, carrying either a small snake or lizard in its beak!

In terms of wildlife, we managed to find several black-backed jackals along the trail, including one which sat not far from our convoy, watching us from the sparse safety of some long grass, several herds of hartebeest and gemsbok, and the usual complement of steenbok.

We rolled into Witgat for our final night of the trail, and as usual were greeted by the black-headed heron, standing on his usual perch on the large fibreglass cistern of the camp’s waterhole. We weren’t able to find any predator prints wandering through the camp, though we did find plenty of evidence of the steenbok and springhare which frequent the area.

We had another chilly night in camp, but thankfully not nearly as fridgid as the night before. We woke to find a nice clear set of brown hyena tracks leading up to our camp from the waterhole, before disappearing off into the bush.

Our last day on the trail was quite active, where we were able to find many pale chanting goshawks (including one flying off which a snake in its claws), several kori bustards, herds of hartebeest and gemsbok, ostrich, three black-backed jackals, many steenbok, and a juvenile bateleur eagle flying overhead. We also found a solitary female ostrich wandering through the bush, being followed by 7 very small chicks!

Another wonderful trail completed!


Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

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Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:28 pm Unread post
May 21-24

Unfortunately, our first day started out with some technical issues. My poor little Hilux didn’t like the -8oC (!!!) temperatures we experienced overnight on Sunday, and I woke up to find that not only did it not want to start, but that there was ice in the gas line! It took us a while to get the vehicle sorted, which got me to my guests rather late. Fortunately, they were truely stellar and forgiving once I arrived and set us up on our way.

Once on the road to the trail, we were very lucky, seeing several herds of various ’boks, as well as two excellent sightings of black-backed jackal, as well as a bateleur soaring slowly overhead. On the trail, we continued to have an excellent bird day, seeing a rock kestrel, PCGs, a spotted eagle owl in a tree, swallow-tailed bee-eaters, a lilac-breasted roller (my first in a while!), and several northern black korhaan. Aside from the bird life, we also found several groups of gemsbok, another fantastic black-backed jackal sighting, and several sightings of steenbok.

We made it into camp a little later then our usual, but still had plenty of time to set up our tents and sort ourselves out before the sun set. It was a very quiet night, but thankfully not nearly as cold as the night before. We had a beautiful moonless night, and fantastic view of the stars before we turned into our nice warm sleeping bags.

We woke up the following morning to find some nice fresh brown hyena tracks wandering through the camp, investigating our ring of cars before continuning off down the road. We kept an eye out for him as we set off, but sadly the tracks disappeared out over a dune and disappeared.

We continued on for a very nice bunch on Eileen’s pan, wit both the gemsbok and hartebeest residence in abundance on the pan. The gemsbok were even more agreeable then usual, and tolerated our presence throughout the morning, rather then making a run for it at the first opportunity as is their usual modus operandi.

Along the trail we had fantastic views of three black-backed jackals, several large herds of gemsbok, kori bustards, ostrich, hartebeest, and steenbok, as well as the usual complement of steenbok. The bird life was not nearly as varied as the day before, seeing mainly the usual LBJs and drongos lining our path, with the occasional crimson-breasted shrike.

We pulled into camp on the second night, and again looked for tracks, but found that the only thing that had wandered through recently were some steenbok. The night was much warmer then our first, so we were much more comfortable around the fire, and greatly enjoyed stargazing while listening to the jackals calling in the background.

We set off on our third day after being unable to find any prints through our camp, and had another wonderfully relaxing day along the trail. We came across the usual groups of gemsbok and hartebeest, PCGs and steenbok. Most interesting was a small group of gemsbok with a very young calf! The little guy was no more then a month old, and was quite curious about our convoy, peering at us from behind his mother, who was quite clearly nervous at our presence. I was quite surprised at seeing such a young calf at this time of year, as it’s really not the typical time of year to see such youngsters.

Elsewhere along the trail we came across a small group of meercats standing sentinel near their den, secretary birds and kori bustards, as well as a black-chested snake eagle flying overhead with a snake in its claws.

We arrived at witgat and were greeted by the resident black-headed heron – as well as a large group of gemsbok! This would be the first time I’ve seen gemsbok actually at the waterhole, so it was very nice to see that the ‘boks do actually know about this oasis in between the two rivers!

We set up camp and then wandered down to the waterhole to collect the trap camera that had been sitting there for the past two weeks. We weren’t able to find any prints – the gemsbok had clearly spent the day running about in front of the camera – but the camera should give us a good idea of what was in the area.

Once we had set up camp and it got dark, I entertained my guests with a short side show of what had been on the camera trap: several lions (both male and female), a brown hyena, jackal, wild cat, several good shots of the black-headed heron, a barn owl, steenbok, springhare, and 400 pictures of the gemsbok milling around the waterhole!

Our last night was a quiet one, but we did find some brown hyena tracks coming up the road the following morning. We had a nice breakfast watching the sun rise and watching a handful of gemsbok wander slowly in to the waterhole for a while, before setting off on our final day of the trail.

Along the last portion of the trail, we came across one of the largest clusters of gemsbok I’ve seen. We must have spent a good 5 minutes driving through one long herd – quite well spread out, of course, but an impressive number of animals. We also came across secretary birds, the usual complement of pale chanting goshawks and kori bustards, and a handful of ostrich.

Two sightings, however, by far took the cake. I came up over one dune and scared up a group of lions that were shading themselves not 5 metres off the road! They wandered off a bit until they had recovered from the shock, wandering along the ridge of the dune before settling themselves once more once they were convinced my big white hilux wasn’t going to continue its “attack”. We managed to arrange ourselves so that everyone in the convoy could see, and spent a good half hour watching them as they eventually relaxed to our presence and wandered back into their shade, right beside our convoy. A really excellent lion sighting, and one we had all to ourselves.

Not 10 minutes later, we rounded another dune and spotted a herd of Eland trotting away from us. They were far less photogenic then the lions, and disappeared over the dunes in rapid fashion – actually headed back in the general direction of the lions!

Both sightings were brilliant, and a wonderful way to finish off the trail!
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