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 Post subject: Lirritma Father and son trip to "Green" Kalahari.
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:35 pm 
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“Will you have the chicken or the beef sir?” Yes you got that right, I am on my way to Buenos Aires via Sao Paolo, and 10 kilometres above see level in an Airbus A340-300. A bit higher than the Parks Board chopper Michelle. I see you had a great trip and I will make some time to read all the detail. To think it could have been me, but I had to prepare for our unforgettable trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. I checked the stats on the plane earlier and noted that it will cost just short of R1.4 million to fill its tank – I wonder why I was complaining about the R550 I had to put into the double cab before we left. We past just north of Upington a while ago and I could see the waving dunes of the Kalahari.

Our party consist of a very good friend Kobus, our sons Hannes, Herman, and me. Since Kobus and I came back from a Kalahari trip in September 2006, the boys were on our case to make another trip. So on Saturday 29 March we got together in the afternoon to pack. We each had items on the equipment list to cover and the mothers did some shopping for us. We were ready to leave the next morning at 4 o’clock.


Last edited by lirritma on Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:05 pm 
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Day 1 – Port Elizabeth to Twee Rivieren

Herman and I got up and packed the frozen food, which we had vacuum packed in portions according to our meal plan, in a cooler filled with ice. We still do this thing with out all the fancy deep freeze equipment.

We picked Kobus and Hannes up just before 4 and hit the road. The plan was to sleep over at Upington on Sunday evening and then enter the Park on Monday morning. The fog in the Eastern Cape Mountains did not slow us down to much and we get to Hanover in time for morning coffee and rusks. By now we have already seen a few springbok in the Karoo and the Kalahari fewer is building up. We even saw a Tawny Eagle as we moved along towards Prieska. Everywhere there are some red falcons sitting of the telephone lines searching for a morsel to eat.

As we get closer to Prieska we see this strange cloud coming over the hills. At first I think it is dust blown by the winds, but then we see that it is a massive swarm of locusts. We stop to have a look and I take a few pictures.

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Where they sit down they eat through the green grass like a wheat eater. We measure the width of the swarm as we drive slowly through it to not get the windows to dirty – it is just over 3 kilometres. The length of it must be at least 5 km, so that would make it 15 square kilometres of green eating grasshoppers – like something from the movie Bugs Life.

We stop at Prieska to get something cool to drink and to stretch legs. The Karoo north of Britstown had some nice rain and the switch from dry land to the green belt of the Gariep is not as striking as usual. By 2 pm we are in Upington and as it was still early we phone Twee Rivieren to find out if we can sleep there for the night. We get a campsite and abandon our plans to stay over in Upington. The road disappears fast behind us. The last 60 kilometres is not bad at all with thirty kilometres already tarred and the rest in fair condition. At 5 pm, 13 hours after we left PE, we drive through the gates of the Park – we have arrived.

The campsites are quite full, due to the school holidays, and we first went to get a spot before we checked it. We laid the ground sheets out and I reach into the back of the bakkie to get the first tent out. When I touched the tent bag it is as if I my whole body freeze. My heart came to a near stop and my surroundings became dark – I realized that we have two lovely canvas tents and I left the frames at home. I am so embarrassed I feel I could crawl down the nearest ground squirrel hole and stay there for the 7 days that we will be spending in the desert. The response from the rest of the group is more numb than concerned as we leave everything just like that and walk to the reception. My already embarrassed state get a further knock when our guru, Kgalagadi TFP, smile and made some comments while he overheard me sharing our disaster with Willem and Eva at the front desk. I think he said something like “It might get interesting with the scorpions and the jackals at night time”.

Willem at first is not sure how to help us but made a phone call and told us that Riaan, the technical official responsible for the camps, has two tents that we can use. He directed me to Riaan’s house in the staff area where he met us with a gentle laugh –one that I could appreciate by then as he was laughing with us and not at us – and we at least knew we should be fine. We left our tents with him and pitch camp for out first night. There was no time for a short afternoon drive, but we felt a lot better as we sat down with a cold one alongside the fire is the balmy Kalahari evening, looking forward to the week ahead and laughing about my little big mishap. A business friend from Cradock, also camping, spots us and … my story is told. After dark we saw a lot of thunder activity to the north. At some point during the night we are woken up by a load strike, but there is no real rain to mention.


Last edited by lirritma on Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:48 pm 
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Tinypics is acting up a bit so I'll post the text and add the pics and edit the post as I get it up loaded.


Day 2 – Twee Rivieren to Kamqua and back.

We got up early, had some coffee and rusks to be in time for the opening of the gates. It is the last day that we can get in before sunrise, at 06:30, as the gate times change to 07:00 from 1 April. Whilst we wait for the guard to arrive with the permits, I met Koos from Postmasburg. He is a keen amateur wildlife photographer and plans to bring a group of fellow togs through to the park later this year.

We moved into the game area, saw the first springbok ram guarding its territory, and then saw two walking bushes moving over a dune – its porcupines. It is to dark for a photo and they move away to fast, but how fantastic to start with such a rare sighting. We stop for a moment to take in the sight of the sun rising trough the clouds on the horizon.

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When we get to Samevloeiing but the Nossob road is closed due to heavy rains that again made the road difficult to travel on. It is a pity as we were planning to drove up to Melkvlei. Two whiteface ducks is all we see at Samevloeiing for the rest of our time in the park. I took a few photos of the dry eland carcasses still lying around after the invasion of last year.

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The road towards Mata Mata takes us through the most amazing green covered dunes. The grass look like wheat fields, a sight that I, let alone the rest of the group, have never seen before. We get a black back jackal, a heard of gemsbok, an ostrich and a korhaan in the dunes before we drove into the Auob river valley. The korhaans feathers are still puffed in the morning chill.

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We get our first herd of blue wildebeest at Houmoed and I wonder where those take-away cats, as Peter Betts call them, were. A lone white belly stork search for insects in the grass. It must have stayed behind when the rest of the big flocks, we saw on the Nossob webcam, left. We get a lovely shighting of a steenbok. There use to be plenty of them on the far, on the west coast of Namakwaland, where I come from.

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Just before Munro we get a big herd of springbok grazing in the green grass and yellow flowers. The young ones are full of life and entertain us with their running and pronking. Everywhere you see rams in combat to determine ranking. There must be at least a 1500 plus in the heard.

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As we leave the springbok, Koos came from the front and stopped us – the take-away cats are at Kamfersboom and feeding on a wildebeest. We see a few cars just before the waterhole. One male is lying on his side with a much-filled belly. We see one of the sub adult cubs, a male, a bit further to the right and then the rest of the pride still feeding towards the other side of the riverbed in the grass cover. It is another big male, two females and cubs. In total, we count 9 lions. The male gets up a few times and move the carcas around whilst 4 jackals are waiting in the distance for them to leave the table. The lions are not in a rush and one just hears some rumbling noises as they eat. The male gets up again and lick the meat after he turned the carcas a second time – he is a big boy.

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After we left the lions, we get a lanner falcon, a herd of wildebeest of more than a 100 at Auchterlonie and then our first three giraffes at Batulana. I have never seen them so far south and wonder if it is because of all the food and water that they managed to get so far away from their usual spots closer to Mata Mata.

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More gemsbok, some bee-eaters followed by ground squirrels playing and feeding next to the road.

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All of this is followed by our first of a few marshal eagle sightings followed by a secretary bird just before we get to the lunch spot at Kamqua. We also see how a red falcon plucks a bird out of the sky close to the ground followed by another one that tries to steel its loot.

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We enjoy what is left of the previous nights BBQ and something with which we can toast a great first morning in the park.


Last edited by lirritma on Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:22 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:18 am 
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Gerrit

Your Lanner Falcon is in fact a REDNECKED FALCON

Good sighting


Steve


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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:27 pm 
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Thanks for all the comments so far. Let me complete the post on the second day. I hope I'm not posting to many photos.

Day 2 – Twee Rivieren to Kamqua and back (continued)

(NOTE: I've resized and re-loaded the photos.)


After the lunch break, we drove up to 13th borehole and turned back. There is not much to see as the animals hide in the shade but I get a nice photo of a springbok drinking water and a pair of Namakwa doves.

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On our drive back to TR we can again enjoy most of the sighting we had during the morning. We also get a lilac breasted roller and ostriches with chicks. A few of these big birds enjoy a bit of dust treatment for the feathers. We also spot our first kori bustard.

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One of the giraffes is lying next to a tree and we see a skaapsteker snake at Kamfersboom. The lions are not in the riverbed anymore, but whilst we watch the snake crossing the road, we spot one of the males as it lifts it head above the grass under a tree across the road from the waterhole.

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Just before we get back to TR we spot a giant eagle owl guarding a big tree on the right. I am sure you have all seen it there before. Me son inform me that these birds can life to 68 years old.

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We relax in the camp and share the experiences we had during the day – the whole tent debacle now completely forgotten

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The late afternoon drive to Samevloeiing again delivers something special when we spot a lioness in one of the rocky outcrops guarding her new borne cubs. We only see one of the cubs for a few seconds. At some stage she stares for a long time at a red hartebeest, which came walking down the riverbed. It is here where we meet Bun Booyens, editor in chief of GO magazine.

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Riaan and his wife Alida came to check whether we are doing fine with the borrowed tents and we invited them to share a sundowners with us in appreciation for their assistance.

We spent our second night under African sky in TR with a fire, lamb chops and wors. A mole provides some entertainment in the camp and is moved safely away from the camping area. Again the sky to the north is filled with a lot of thunder activity.


Last edited by lirritma on Wed May 07, 2008 8:25 pm, edited 18 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 5:28 pm 
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Gee Gerrit..What size are you putting the pics on or is it my computer...its taken 30 mins and only half of one of your latest is sloooowly uploading on my screen. Tinypic as you and I use normally sizes them correctly??

I saw your comment about a Giant Eagle Owl living to 68 yrs. I know parrots live long but that is in captivity and birds/animals in captivity live much longer than wild ones. Took out my big Roberts ..latest extended edition and they actually mention the age of this species as it is considered exceptional and I quote "Longevity up to 15 yrs in captivity" (page 258 Verreaux's Eagle Owl)..thought Herman would like to know

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:36 am 
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Day 3 Twee Rivieren to Mata Mata

We pack up camp and have coffee and rusks before the gates open. For the next two nights we will be staying in Mata Mata. We just left the camp when two gemsbok are having a full on battle right next to the road. They are partly obscured by bushes and I only get one photo in – not the best one though. As usual, it is a short event, with a lot of dust and clacking horns, and then the looser walks away whilst trying to keep its dignity – somehow as I felt after the tents hit me for a six.

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The Nossob road is still closed and we again take the dune road towards Houmoed. It only delivers a korhaan hiding behind the tall grass.

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We come across a car that is waiting for a puff adder to cross the road in the early morning chill. It is unique to see it so early and Kobus makes the remark that it is a sign that it is going to rain again.

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We have just moved on when we see a redneck falcon pulling a nest apart to get to the chicks inside. On the opposite side of the road is a rat in the thickets.

As we drive towards Kamfersboom, we get more springbok, gemsbok and ground squirrels enjoying the spoils of the green grass and flower filled dunes and riverbed.

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A Tawny Eagle sits low in a tree at a distance and I get what turn to be out the only photo I get of one. It is not a good one but at least one for the record

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We see cars parked at the Kamfersboom waterhole and guess that the lions must be drinking so I drive a bit faster hoping to get a few nice photos. The day before they were a bit far away. This will become another mistake of the trip, but more about this later. We get the lions lying in the grass across the road from the waterhole where they are still dealing with the heartburn of the previous days feast. One male and a lioness are nicely perched on top of a small dune about 10 meters away from us. I have the sun behind me with nice early morning light, which is partly defused by clouds – great for a few nice photos. I get about three shot in and get myself ready to add a few more as they move around. The next moment a white 4x4 SUV, with a CAW registration, come speeding from the Mata Mata side. It makes such a noise over the corrugated road that the lions take offence and move away to behind a bush a bit further away – photo opportunity gone. The driver stops to enquire why we are parked there, together with two other vehicles. We tell him about the lion upon which he reply, “Oh, I saw them yesterday” and then he just move along again. I feel like I can through him with something – come on this is not the Kruger highway. Koos joins us again and we exchange contact details while I tell him about the incident. With the lions down in the grass for the day, we move on towards Kamqua for lunch.

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Last edited by lirritma on Wed May 07, 2008 9:13 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:13 am 
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Day 3 Twee Rivieren to Mata Mata (continued)


We see a wildebeest running down the riverbed, in a mad rage as they can do sometimes. It roles in the dust and then storm a tree next to the road where it scratches its horns.

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Just before the picnic spot, a mole snake is moving fast across the road and into the grass.

Kamqua is a nice picnic spot with its shady big trees and neat ablution facilities. We are first joined by Bun and family. We tell him about the lions and the whole family take the Mickey out of Mom because they were on here side of the vehicle and she missed it. Then he tells us, without any ceremony as if it happens everyday, that they have spotted a leopard. “Where!?” is the immediate response. “About 4 kilometres before Kamfersboom on the TR side of the waterhole”. So, we saw the cars at the waterhole, thought the lions were drinking, and stopped looking around. I could kick myself because it was on my side of the vehicle. They just have a quick cold drink and drive off towards Mata Mata. Then another white SUV pulls in next to us and I spot the yellow ribbon on the side mirror immediately. I was suspecting a blue double cab with one on the day and it then turned out to be the replacement for it. So, as I was hoping to, I meet Wanda, aka wanderw, and her husband Mark. We tell them about the lions and the report of the leopard sighting. They report that a big storm, which moved through Mata Mata the night before with strong winds and heavy rain, caused a bit of havoc in the campsite. We say good-bye and carry on driving to Mata Mata. Just before 13th borehole, we get one of the groups of bat ear foxes, which Wanda told us about.

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There are quite a few gemsbok drinking water at 14th borehole. One is the proverbial Kalahari Unicorn with only one horn.

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We continue to drive through lovely green Kalahari scenes. I have just never seen it like this before and one can hardly think it being possible if you look at the reports of September last year when dead animals were everywhere. It is this land of extreme contrast that makes the Kgalagadi such a special place to visit.

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Between Craig Lockhard and Sitsas the grass is so tall that you can barely see the springbok above it. The colour of the animals off set brightly against the green grass and they are it peak condition.

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We pass through an area with a lovely mix of Gemsbok, Springbok and Wildebeest and it looks like a real Kalahari Tutti Fruti amongst the grass and flowers.

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We get the first signs of the rain that passes through the area the night before and more springbok in the lush riverbed.

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As we approach Sitsas, Hannes, who is in the Kalahari for his first time and can still not believe it is a desert, say “This place looks more like a driving rang at a golf course than a desert”. A male ostrich with a few young pluck on the grass in the green riverbed. It is alone with no female in sight and I wonder if it is a single parent with mom now a forgotten meal for some predator.

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We also see a springbok ram feasting on some red flowers next to the road.

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Last edited by lirritma on Wed May 07, 2008 9:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:04 am 
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Mashona wrote:
Gerrit

Question

With all the long lush grass, the rodents must have been abundant, then follows that if that was the case the raptures must have had a feeding frenzy?


Steve


And that is why the Bat Eared Foxes are everywhere too (as well as Cape Foxes) in times of Plenty...In really dry times their numbers fall off big time....Cape gofor Rodents nd Bat eared after the insects

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:26 pm 
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Thank you for all the comments and input that you are giving on the report. It surely makes the aftertaste staying for longer. :dance:

I'm now giving you the rest of the report of day three and will then disapear from the radar screen again till after Sunday. I'm hosting a major childrens charity event on Sunday, The Table of Peace and Unity, and the role out is starting in all cylinders from tomorrow.

Day 3 Twee Rivieren to Mata Mata (continued)

We check in at Mata Mata and get a campsite with a direct view on the waterhole. In the tree above us a dove made a nest and we watch how she feeds the chicks. There are also plenty crimson-breasted shrikes around.

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We meet a retired couple who are travelling with the Cruiser Club of South Africa. There is probably not a pace in Africa where they have not been and they share a lot of there travel experiences with us. When they started making camp, I forget all about the tent experience because they show us how you do it with basic equipment. They have a ground sheet followed by a thick double inflatable mattress. On top of the mattress, they fold open on of those two men pop-up tents. A small table and two chairs come out and it is the end of the story.

The clouds started building again and we decided not to go on an afternoon drive, but rather start with the potjie that was on the menu.

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The food is a lot with all the meat and veggies but Hannes wants rice as well. An opened beer can then become an improvised rice pot. It works well and we make a mental note of it for the next time. It will also help that one does not make to much rice – something that can happen very easy if you have non-cooks making food.

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Soon after we had a fantastic meal, the winds come up and a few drops of rain come down. We pack up and decide to baton down for the night. The wind pushes hard against the tents. Then someone in the Cruiser Club asks, “Is it a Hyena?” We get up and lone behold, there is a big spotted hyena on the other side of the fence. We move closer and it made no effort to get away as we edge as close as two steps away from it. Probably because it sometimes picks up bones that people through over the fence. It is quite scary to think you are so close to this dangerous one with the strong jaws. A spotted eagle owl and a few nightjars are also feeding on what ever are drawn to the light at the waterhole.

We have a rough night with very strong winds and are at staged covered with the tents canvas right onto our sleeping bags. Luckily, it does not rain much and the wind dies down after midnight.


Last edited by lirritma on Wed May 07, 2008 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:39 pm 
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Peter Betts wrote:
I saw your comment about a Giant Eagle Owl living to 68 yrs. I know parrots live long but that is in captivity and birds/animals in captivity live much longer than wild ones. Took out my big Roberts ..latest extended edition and they actually mention the age of this species as it is considered exceptional and I quote "Longevity up to 15 yrs in captivity" (page 258 Verreaux's Eagle Owl)..thought Herman would like to know


Herman got it out of an animal encyclopedia which he took with. I was a bit amazed as well. Will let him get it at the library again and check up on it.


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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:19 am 
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Good morning everyone. Thanks for being patient for the rest of the report. Last week was very busy as I was hosting the first Table of Peace and Unity in Port Elizabeth. We had 350 guests who enjoyed a lunch and were entertained by the Bala brothers, Andriette and Louise Caever. We are busy counting the donations an and settling the bills and hope to be able to build a pre school for 45 kids who are currently being housed, in nothing better than a shack, in KwaNobuhle near Uitenhage.

So here goes with..

Day 4: Mata Mata to Kamqua and back.

We survived the winds of the night and the tents are still standing. There was not a lot of rain and the morning air is nice and fresh. The noise of the wind during the night was replaced by the heavy snoring of a few people at the campsite next to us, but it was not as bad as the person at TR was a few nights earlier. He was sleeping in a roof tent, it sounded like little thunder hitting the dunes, and when he turn around one could hear the fuel moving in the jerry cans.

We have the normal rusks and coffee and pack our cooler for the day, which goes into its usual position between the boys on the back seat.

There is a lot of dew in the veldt and the sun hit us in the eye as we leave the camp. There are a few wildebeest around and a lone gemsbok. A steenbok ewe pulls here ears flat to try to blend in with her surroundings but the green grass give per position away.

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We spot about five giraffes very far in the desert towards Bitterpan. The green veldt and water everywhere make it possible for them to travel far from their normal areas. I wonder if they will one day be able to cross over into the Nossob riverbed. Another herd of wildebeest are gracing close to the road.

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“That is a lion spoor,” I announced to the rest as I spot fresh tracks in the road.

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We pick up the track and follow it slowly. It moves across the road a few times and every time it happens, the eye on the opposite side of the vehicle picks it up. Then we loose it. Well that was it then and all the excitement die down. We get some hartebeest - I have never seen so many in the park before.

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After about a kilometre, we get the lion tracks again. Everyone is back on their posts to follow it slowly as it moves from side to side of the road. At stages it becomes very faint as it moves over harder parts of the road and the, after we have followed it for about ten kilometres from when we picked it up the first time, we get the king on top of a dune not to far away from the road just short of Sitszas. We stop and look at it for a while. It gets up and walks towards a bush on top of the dune and lie down behind it. He is a bit thin around the middle and must be hunting.

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Whilst we sit and watch it, we are joined by all the late starters and soon there are about six vehicles watching it. It gets up and there are a lot of excitement as it starts to walk in our direction. The grass is very tall and it is amazing to see it coming towards us through it. It also stops at intervals and eats some grass, just like house cats when their stomachs are not well.

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It is now walking down the road again and all the vehicles get and opportunity to drive next to it. Kobus closes his windows while we warn Hannes not to lean out the window. It gets out of the road and mark its territory before it walks off into the veldt around a big heard of gemsbok and springbok.

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A lot of excitement for the early morning as we follow it and then see it going down in high grass on top of the dune. There is a lot of tension in the veldt amongst about 400 gemsbok, springbok and wildebeest as they pick up his sent.


Last edited by lirritma on Wed May 07, 2008 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 5:59 am 
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Lovely report Gerrit and a big very well done on your Charity drive...it takes a special person to believe in it and to carry it off so well God Bless.
Just got to love your lion sequence here Was it very cloudy??? Photo no 2 is a classic and I would have loved to have taken that pic with the 70-200 on plus 0.3 overide with a bit of Selection Curves aftterwards to see. The sky and dunes and lion profile look great here and I know it was naturally green as well but maybe a tad more sun (out of your hands). This looks 99.99% like that famous lion taken by everyone since July last year with the broken/injured jaw. Great to see him going on a long walk in KTP in modern times. That was always half the fun...drive out of Nossob turn left and pic up a big fresh spoor in the soft sand and drive in the middle wheel on each side for kms..(Right to Kwang one time ...18 kms ???) and then find him on a dune where the spoor finallly left the road. These days with the Grand Prix start out of Nossob every morning this tracking/read the kalahari newspaper is all but long gone in the rush and dust to be first but being the only campers/residents was different. Pic 3 shows and 1 maybe his injured jaw with badly torn bottom jaw. Well done

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 1:45 pm 
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Thanks for all the comments everyone and for your detail input Peter. It felt a bit like tracking the Addo lion kingdom. Yes, the light was very dark with a lot of clouds cover. I do not think this guy is your broken jaw lion - have a look at the rest of my report on day 4.


Day 4: Mata Mata to Kamqua and back (continued)

We leave the lion scene and then spot this breeding pair of martial eagles on the other side of the riverbed. It is too far for a good photo unfortunately but I take one just for the record.

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A black back jackal is curled up in a bundle, as the morning air is still quite cold.

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Well its lions everywhere this year by the looks of things as we get to a small car pile up next to the famous male with the injured lower jaw just north of Craig Lockhart. We do not see him as he is obstructed by a bush from our vantage point. Suddenly he starts to roar …WOW!! … we are about 10 meters away and the sound is frightening and very load. The convoy moves and we are now right next to him, which allows me to get a profile shot. One can see the injury to the lower jaw- looks a bit as if someone stole his food. He gets up and slowly walks towards a tree where he scratch his nails, like a house cat on the legs of a table, as he arches his back.

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We turn off the main road towards 14th borehole and a large herd of gemsbok is entertaining us with a couple of duals. We sit and watch for a while as the battles continue.

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Before we reach 14th Borehole we se both the Black-chested and Brown snake eagles. The light is very dark and overcast so the photos are not so great. We also get a drongo sitting nicely reached next to the road.

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Just passed the waterhole and here comes a snake eagle diving into the tall grass and fly away with a snake in its claws. It flies off to a tree in the distance and we watch with the binos how the tail of the snake disappears down the raptors throat.

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Now just look at that – we have a whole bat eared fox family in the road. The move to the side and we sit and watch them looking around for insects in the grass. This is the best bat eared fox sighting I have ever had in the Kalahari.

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A steenbok ewe is very relaxed at 13th borehole and even poses for a photo of two. It walks to the structure around the pump and then back into the open whilst we enjoy the sighting of an otherwise very elusive little antelope.

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We drive on to the Kamqua picnic spot see a pair of secretary birds, a crimson chested shrike and a lone giraffe at Urikaruus walking in the direction of Mata Mata. It must be one of the three we got south of Kamqua two days ago.

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Lunch is a real feast. We heat up the left over potjie of the night before and add some scrambled eggs with is. I put a small tomato and onion salad together with a touch of sugar and vinegar just to break the fat of the potjie a bit. We open a tin of peaches, which are smothered in custard. The picnic spot is surprisingly quiet today given that it is school holidays. We only are joined by one vehicle. It is two women from Switzerland who works for a travel agent and they are doing a recci on the park and the Northern Cape to promote tours. The one is ex South African. What a life to get your company to pay for your holiday to such a lovely part of the world. They tell us that they got the Samevloeiing Lioness next to the road in the morning whilst she was carrying one of the cubs in her mouth.

The afternoon drive back to Mata Mata is quiet as if has become a bit warmer again.

We stop at the famous communal weaver nest, which always looks like natures gate to the Mata Mata region. We sit for a while to see if we can spot a snake on it, but no luck this time.

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We only see a few gemsbok and a blue wildebeest with its muddy face on our way back.

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We get a lot of vultures, about 30 plus, in the trees at the same spot where the martial eagles are nesting. It is too far for any photo.

We relax in the camp with a beer and Hannes try to get the attention of the ground squirrels.

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We decide to take an afternoon drive. The light is great and the giraffes that was far off during the morning are now closer to the road and I get a few photos in whilst we look at them feasting on all the new growth in the trees.

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There is plenty of gemsbok around and we see a few with funny looking horns.

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Just in case you were wondering, this is how it should look.

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Here is one that was surely born without horns or the horns got damages at very young age and did not develop at all. It looks a bit funny to see this gracious antelope without its “crown”. It actually just looks like your ordinary cow with a funny black and with face.

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We get Koos again and he tells us that the Nossob side is even greener than what we have seen now for a few days. His double cab is full of mud as they drove through a lot of water after the rains the previous two nights. He did not see a lot there because the grass is just too tall. He follows us as we drive up to Craig Lockhart to see if we can again see the lions we got during the morning but no trace of them.

On our way back, we get a nice group of Gemsbok and Springbok gracing together.

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Back at the camp, a pearl spotted owl come and sit in the well-known dry tree next to the fence and it allows me to get close for a photo.

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It is a beautiful late balmy afternoon whilst we start the fire for a braai later. Bun Booyens come and join us for a chat and he tells me about the new developments in the magazine world which seem to be going web base. I tell him about the Forum and how we share our experiences through trip reports and he asks me to copy him in on my report.

We go and sit at the waterhole after dinner, hoping that the hyena will return. It does not, but we see a jackal, the spotted eagle owl of the night before, a few nightjars and springhare in the distance with the spotlight. We all go to bed after another “terrible” day in paradise.


Last edited by lirritma on Wed May 07, 2008 10:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 9:15 pm 
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Day 5: Mata Mata to Nossob.

Mata Mata must be one of the places on the planet where the day breaks the most beautiful and probably because of the lovely silhouette that the old dry tree in the corner of the camp produce. This morning it is also a reminder that it is unfortunately our last morning here. We got up a few minutes earlier because we have to pack up camp. It doesn’t take us very long (about 20 minutes) and everyone has a job.

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It is a great morning again in the veldt and the fresh air creates a gentle chill on the skin. A wildebeest still stands under a tree for protection from the dew but so that the sun can heat it up on the side. I try to take a photo from behind it so that one can look at the world “through the eye” of the wildebeest.

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There are plenty springbok around and the light is lovely this morning with no clouds around. One group is close to the road and I use the opportunity to take a few more portrait shots in the golden light.

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As we get close to Craig Lockhart we get a two wildebeest with that stark look in their eyes. This one even stops chewing on the grass in its mouth. Well there can only be one reason for it – more lions. We join a few cars looking at a family group of male, female and 5 cubs. This must be the group that provided so much entertainment to everyone last year at 14th borehole. Unfortunately on the wrong side of the road from a light perspective and they more away quickly to a small dune in the distance so not a great photo opportunity.

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The giraffes here at Dalkieth look like ghosts this morning against the strong backlight as they walk through the riverbed.

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A gemsbok, icon of the Kalahari comes over the dune and provides a love photo opportunity. I must be one of the most beautiful antelopes.

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We turn towards 13th borehole and get a pair of tawny eagles and a few red hartebeest drink water at the waterhole. The fencing display is not as spectacular as we get from gemsbok. It is more a gentle rubbing of horns. Their skin shines in the morning sun and tells the story of peak condition as a result of the veldt condition. I like the reflections on the water when they drink.

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Another fencing display by the gemsbok at 14th borehole awaits us. There is a lot of clacking horns and running around.

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The rest of our trip to Kamqua, where we are going to have lunch again doesn’t deliver much and I only get a photo of a pale chanting goshawk and another black-chested snake eagle. Let’s go and have a look at the bush camp at Urikaruus – why not? It’s a nice hide away spot overlooking the riverbed. Leopards can climb trees – and I am sure they can also get up the pole stilts.

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BIG lion tracks on my side of the road just before the Kamqua waterhole. It’s fresh because it is crossing motor tracks that were made this morning. We scan the veldt where it left the road but nothing in sight.

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We stop at the picnic spot and join a few other cars. Last nights cold ribs will go down well now before we cross the desert to the Nossob River.


Last edited by lirritma on Wed May 07, 2008 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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