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 Post subject: Herman's KTP trip : 23-29 Sept
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:30 pm 
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Just back from Heaven !! That place is just sooo special !! Had wonderful sightings, viewed fantastic scenery and inhaled pure magic air !! Will put up some photos tomorrow - too exhausted now ! Left TR at 6:30 this morning and got home at 6:00 pm ! Just briefly - saw lions every day 33 in total and cheetahs twice, missed a leopard by a minute ( as usual !! ) many wild cats ( including a very reddish domestic ? looking cat) meerkats, jackals,foxes,giraffes,eland,hartebeest,spring hares,raptors,snakes and two YR's !! Jannie and Penny !


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Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 10:50 pm 
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Just back from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and a wonderful experience once again ! We took some friends who were going for the first time and I warned them not to expect too much.Now if that sounds a bit negative, just try to remember what you felt like after that long drive through the increasingly drier and hotter, unforgiving landscape from Upington. Not very inspiring to a newcomer from the city !!
Well, I could see the apprehension and disappointment in their eyes when we finally got to Twee Rivieren. Theo, who had been to Etosha in Namibia and loved it , told me he was trying his best to sell this place to his wife and kids, but I could see on their faces that he had a big job ahead !! Both families fortunately had some "toys" to keep their minds occupied - brand new Land Rovers and off-road caravans, bought just with this kind of adventure in mind !! I was just hoping that the Kgalagadi would give them the kind of welcome that I had on my first game drive 34 years ago.
The Kgalagadi didn't let me down ! On our first drive that afternoon we had some wonderful sightings...
What better introduction can one want than a majestic gemsbok on a dune in the late afternoon sun ?!!
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But the Park was in a generous mood - a bigger surprise waited at Munro, the second waterhole. My heart started racing as we approached the water hole where four cars were already parked together - yes, four is a big crowd in the Kgalagadi - and I knew my friends were going to see something that would get them hooked. There she was - resting in the shade on the red dune .......there were seven, but we only saw five of them.
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The mood in the camp was much better that evening !!

We were moving to Nossob the next day and started early on this long drive. We decided to go back on the Mata Mata road and then cross over to the Nossob side via the first dune road. It turned out to be a good decision. Got a glimpse of a lioness and three youngish cubs disappearing over the dune at the first water hole, "Houmoed". We helped a guy who was having car trouble, fully aware that the lions were probably watching us from the top of the dune !! We got the guy's car started and drove up to the lookout above the water hole, where people where waving frantically at us ! They confirmed what we expected - the lioness and cubs had been watching us !!
Next stop was Auchterlonie where we visited the pioneer museum. Can't imagine the hardships of those pioneering days !
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The dune road was just beautiful - both the road surface and the scenery! It was the first time we travelled on this road - it didn't yet exist on our last visit and we were curious .... it was wonderful...
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The small herd of gemsboks at Tierkop water hole was our best sighting on the dune road. We saw the windmill and decided to go left to the lookout above the water hole. I was concentrating on the road and only looked down when we got to the top. The scene almost took my breath away.............endless dunes all the way to the horizon and the gemsboks down below made it a memorable moment.
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We got to Nossob in a good mood.
In my opinion Nossob is the type of camp that Satara in the Kruger is. Not the nicest place to stay, but the best for game viewing !! Marie se draai, the looped drive that goes to "Marie se Gat" water hole, can be compared to the famous S100 in the Kruger if you ask me.
Marie se Draai was our intended starter for the first morning at Nossob, whereafter we would have breakfast at the camp and then head north towards Unions End. We never went north - Marie se Draai took up most of our morning and we eventually had brunch, not breakfast !
It started with this kitty at Rooikop, the first water hole.
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Then five cheetahs walking down from the dunes just before the turn-off to Marie se Draai. They all looked fully grown, so we presumed they were a mother and fully grown cubs and that they wouldn't be together much longer - must be time for the mother to send the youngsters off alone. Amazing that she could raise four cubs all by herself- or could it be two mothers and three cubs ? Unfortunately no photos - they were too far for our 300mm lens. Wish I had one of those bazookas !!
Next stop was "Marie se Gat" where we spent over an hour with this family of Cape Foxes...
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The cubs were playing hide and seek in the number of holes that make up the den and mother looked relaxed. After a while there was a sudden change in her behaviour and she gave some sort of signal that made the cubs dive for the den. She saw something on the dune behind us and rushed past us. There was a stand off between her and another fox, which backed off after a while.
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We drove on and took the loop back towards the main Twee Rivieren / Nossob road. Right on the intersection a thrilling sighting awaited us ...
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The cubs were tired and the lioness lay down in the shade on the edge of the road. We were going to have them all to ourselves for quite a while. Later three other cars, our friends in their Land Rovers and another car stopped behind us. The occupants of the last car waved me on. Now what ? If I drive closer or past the sleeping lions, they might just get up and move further away into the shrubs and I'm sure those people would be the first to blame me for "chasing their lions away ". I stayed were I was - four metres from the lions - I wasn't blocking their view - the lions were on the edge of the road and the other cars were stacked away in such a way that they could all see. After a while I decided to risk it and started the car's engine and crawled past. They didn't move and eventually all the cars could have our "ring side seat ' for a few minutes at a time.
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Further reports to follow tomorrow..


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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 1:08 am 
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We went on a night drive at Nossob that night - we had just left the camp gates when we saw two lionesses. The guests who were camping along the fence could see them from their camp sites just a few metres away !! That night at about midnight the roaring started and lasted till about 1:00 am ! They were all around the camp - or so it sounded !!

We were out as soon as the gates opened the next morning and weren't disappointed - a mere 500 m down the road and we spotted two lionesses walking towards us. They were constantly looking back and we guessed that there were more lions...
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They were coming straight towards the water hole at the camp and we decided that the best place would be in the hide inside the camp. By the time we got to the hide it was filling up - the whole camp seemed to be coming to the hide. Outside at the water hole things were getting just as busy as more and more lions joined the first two females.....
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More lions joined .......
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and more.............

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still more joined .....

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Some stopped drinking after a while......
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and started to move away ..............
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Inside the hide one could hear excited whispers, cameras clicking and video cams humming and there were lions coming and going......

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Twelve in total - what an exciting way to start the day !!!!


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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 11:12 am 
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We were moving to Mata Mata that day, so we had quite a long drive ahead. In the dunes we didn't see much apart from a few snakes. I narrowly missed a yellow cobra and almost overturned our car according to my wife !! I must admit I was going too fast ( 50 kmh - still within the speed limit ) but realised then that 50 is too fast if you have to avoid something in the road just after cresting a dune !! Didn't get a photo of that one, but here's another....
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We met Penny and co. near Mata Mata for the second time- they were staying at Kalahari Tented Camp and we went to have a look. Those tents look sooo nice - must stay there next time .
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Just before Mata Mata we saw our first ever "wild" giraffe in the Kgalagadi. They were still in the enclosure on our last visit.
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On our second day at Mata Mata we were still maintaining our incredible luck of seeing lion every day. Didn't get a picture of this one, as it was just walking up the dune away from us at Dalkeith water hole. Not sure if I'd want a photo of this one as it was in a sorry state. A big male that had been attacked by two young males a few days before, we were told. Its jaw seemed to be broken and its left front leg was swollen. It was still in good condition, but if its jaw was really broken as reports had it, it would slowly starve to death.
It was going to be our day of unusual sightings though. Unusual for us that is. Started off with our only sighting of eland.
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Then our first sighting of the meerkats on this trip.. for future reference - Meerkat Manor is underneath the second tree on the left going south from Mata Mata !!
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The daughter of a colleague of mine is doing research on the African wild cats in the Kgalagadi. I see that they ask visitors to report sightings of domestic cats. Well I'll forward this one to her - this one looks exactly like our ginger tabby that went missing a few years ago - I guess Mickey enjoys living on a diet of mice more than the Catmor it had to endure with us !! LOL Marna if you're reading this - the photo was taken at Craig Lockhart water hole.
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Another unusual sighting was the gemsbok on the dune - not very clear on this photo, but its left horn was bent downwards in an unusual way.
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Back in the camp another unusual one - not the subject, but the effort it took to get this pic - you have to climb up a ladder to the old water tank behind the shop to see these barn owls !!
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Even the moon looked unusual that night - just kidding !! The gecko was after the insects around the porch light !!
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We were moving to Twee Rivieren again the next day. We heard that lions had killed a gemsbok at Montrose a few days before and were hoping to see them in the area, but we had better luck. Two cars were parked in the shade of a camel thorn - the one was Penny and co. - the third time we met up with them - but better still - two young cheetahs resting next to the tree !!
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We stayed with them for quite while - I see that Gus Mills is doing research on cheetahs and asks for photographs of cheetahs in the Kgalagadi - no need to send these to him. The other car at the sighting was a Land Rover - Gus Mills and his tracker !!
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All of a sudden their mood changed - one cheetah jumped up looking at the dunes....
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The other one also sat up and soon followed...
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They started walking - they were clearly after some prey - we couldn't see anything at first but then noticed a springbok half way up the dune.
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They seemed to be in a hurry and kept walking up the dune at a rather brisk pace we thought..
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They made a dash for it- unsuccessfully, but it was exciting to watch. Well as I said we had an expert at the scene. Penny and co. had spoken to Gus Mills before we arrived and they gave us some info which they got from him. These two youngsters hadn't eaten for a while and made a charge at a herd of springboks earlier that morning. According to him they're still very inexperienced and were unsuccessful in that attempt too. They must have been getting desperately hungry - that explains the rather clumsy attempt that we witnessed.


Just before we got to Twee Rivieren we had more luck - the same pride of lions we had a glimpse of at Houmoed water hole a few days before. i.e. the lioness with cubs that were watching us as we helped the stranded tourist to restart his vehicle !
This time we did the watching and got photographs.
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There were two lionesses this time - one on the dune and one in the shade a bit lower down...
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One got up and went for a drink at the water hole - the small herd of gemsbok quickly retreated to a safe distance - it was clear that she was in no mood for a chase - the gemsboks sensed that and look quite relaxed.
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We went for a last drive late that afternoon and just missed a leopard - as usual - but we can't complain - we had incredible luck on this trip !! A last few sightings included this kitty...
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A mongoose feeding on some roadkill - a springhare - why do people speed in the park ???
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So that brought an incredible holiday to an end - our last sundowners at Twee Rivieren....

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Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 8:38 pm 
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I sent photographs of that reddish/ginger African Wild Cat to Marna, the cat researcher and she said that they're trying to capture it to get genetic samples. Surprisingly they're not convinced that it is a domestic cat - think it might just be a colour variation, although no colour variations have been documented in the African Wild Cat.


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