Tales from the Kgalagadi

Tell us about your breathtaking experiences in the parks
squirrel_asc
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Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Kgalagadi has been on our bucket list since… well, possibly forever. But somehow we never got around to it. Possibly because we are notorious last-minute planners, and booking Kgalagadi last minute… well. That usually doesn’t work so well. :roll: In the end, we realised that we would have to knuckle down and book 11 months in advance.

So when the sun poked its head over the horizon on 16 October 2018, I was already waiting at the reservation office, nervously counting the people already ahead of me in the queue, armed with a cup of coffee, a dream itinerary, and as much info about Kgalagadi as I could cram into my head to help me make instant changes to said itinerary if necessary.

I managed:
31 Aug 2019 – Twee Revieren
1 – 2 Sep – Kieliekrankie
3 Sep – Nossob
4 – 5 Sep – Bitterpan
6 – 8 Sep – Nossob
9 – 10 Sep – Mata-Mata
11 – Sep – Urikaruus
12 – 13 Sep – Twee Revieren

And so the 11 months wait began... and now the trip is over and done and I have finally finished sifting though the 7081 photos that I brought back. :shock: :redface:

This is not going to be a complete, blow-by-blow report of the trip. I will stick to the most memorable sightings, interspersed with random collections of photos. Because I’m sure you don’t care that much what we did every day, you want to see what we saw!

I’ll start with the obligatory arrival video…
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Sooo... On the second day, we moved to Kieliekrankie (After a quick morning drive from Twee Revieren to Houmoed and back).


Our impression of Kieliekrankie - Lovely Camp. Stunning view and the chalet itself was quite luxurious. The night was freezing cold, but we found some very cozy blankets in the closet and slept snugly in spite of the cold. The water tasted disgusting! Fortunately we had our own water, so we were ok. Only thing that put a tiny little dent in our experience was the shower. The gas geisers are a pain (this was a theme throughout the park!). One minute the shower is burning you, and then, when you touch the tap to turn down the heat, the flame goes out and you freeze. :? . But we weren't about to let an annoying shower spoil anything!

As far as photography opportunities go... Well, that would be the main reason why we are unlikely to ever go back to Kieliekrankie. The view from the camp is stunning, but the waterhole is far down the dune from the camp, so you can't really photograph animals coming to drink. Also, we didn't really see much of anything (except stunning scenery, of course) on the dune road. Sightings only really start when you get to one of the river beds. This means you can't really use the best light for photos. Still a lovely camp though!

And now, since I've neglected to copy all the latest photos to my onedrive to access at work, I'll leave you with a few random LBJs from around Twee Revieren and Kieliekrankie...

Marico Flycatcher, taken on the Auob river road on our first full day in the park, while travelling from Twee Revieren to Kieliekrankie.
MaricoFlycatcher_FE5A9436.jpg


Kalahari Scrub Robin, taken a short while later
KalahariScrubRobin_FE5A9451.jpg


Sociable Weaver, taken near Auchterlonie on the second morning
SociableWeaver_FE5A9670.jpg


Black-Chested Prinia, taken near Kamfersboom on the second morning
Prinia_FE5A9721.jpg
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Sooo... more details on the first few days :)

The first morning, we went for a quick morning drive before coming back to pack up for the move to Kieliekrankie.

First stop was the unnamed viewpoint at the end of the Leeudril 4x4 trail (You can drive up to the top of the dune and access two lookout points - one showing the interior of the park, and one giving a view over the Auob river bed) before you get to the no-entry signs.
AuobRiver_IMG_8591.jpg


From this view point, we saw a small herd of Springbok grazing of another dune, some distance away. Our long lenses could reach them, but we quickly discovered a new challenge we had never faced before - even at just after 8AM, the heat was already enough to cause so much refraction that our cameras cannot focus at a significant distance away! I still like the resulting image (especially after I playing with it a bit in photoshop), even though no one in his right mind would call it sharp. Notice the artifacts on the dune behind them :o
Springbokke_FE5A9408.jpg


Then there was this little guy. Clearly slept in... he was only crawling out of his burrow, still very sleepy, at 9:00 AM!
Squirrel_1D_8341.jpg


After that is was time to head back to camp, pack up and move to Kieliekrankie
Kieliekrankie_1D_8451.jpg
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Day 2... We went North from Kieliekrankie, up the dune road to Melkvlei and back. Sighting were still fairly sparse. Apparently , due to the severe drought, most of the animals had moved into Botswana where there was still more food available when we were there :(

We did see this dazzling little Yellow Canary
YellowCanary_FE5A9680.jpg


A Steenbok couple (the first of many!)
Steenbok_FE5A9729.jpg

Steenbok_FE5A9753.jpg


A very distant Brant's Wistling Rat at Tierkop was an interesting new sighting for us -
Btrants'WistlingRat_FE5A9784.jpg


And this gorgeous red dune, taken from Kij Kij.
RedDune_1D_8546.jpg


At Melkvlei, we were rather shocked to see how tame the Jackals were :shock:
TameJackalAtMelkvlei_1D_8555.jpg


Next up - back to Auchterlonie in the late afternoon, and life suddenly becomes significantly more interesting... :hmz: :hmz:
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Thank you GavinW, Pumbaa, colbol, manicwalker and jjames!

Setting: Late afternoon, Auob river bed, near Auchterlonie.
We returned to the southern road because we had seen a lot of small critters like squirrels in the Auob river bed, and hoped to get some photos in decent light, with the sun behind us.

We were not disappointed!
Squirrel_FE5A9835.jpg

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Also, another small herd of Springbok
Springbokkies_D__8817.jpg


And a Korhaan
Korhaan_1D_8942.jpg


Then we drove up to the picnic site, where we got some pics of the resident Yellow Mongoose clan
YellowMongoose__1D_8913.jpg


And, of course, the obligatory shot of the picnic site itself
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And the historical house
Auchterlonie_IMG_8601.jpg


And then, back down to the road to quickly check the river bed again, before heading back to camp...
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

And, just because I'm feeling generous, you get two installments on one day :D

Is it a bush? Is it Jackal?

Hubby: What is that?
Me (Getting tired and anxious about making it back to camp on time): Looks like some bushes...
Hubby: No, really, do you think it's a jackal?
Me, picking up a camera and looking through the lens: No, I'm sure it's just.... OH MY GOODNESS!

WildCat_FE5A9927.jpg


Just then, two plovers landed close to him, causing him to chatter his teeth like a house cat watching pigeons through the window:

WildCat_FE5A9936.jpg


Then, again, like a typical cat, he decided that the best way to preserve his dignity would be to walk away!

WildCat_FE5A9950.jpg


Sitting down briefly for one last look back before disappearing into the bushes...

WildCat_FE5A9965.jpg


And then we had to hurry back to camp!
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Posts: 355
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

After the African Wildcat sighting, we had to get back to camp fairly quickly. Managed to fire off two quick shots on the way though, before making it to camp with about 5 minutes to spare!

This little Steenbok just made such a pretty picture in the long grass -
Steenbok_1D_8975-Edit.jpg


And these two Eland, silhouetted on the crest of a dune -
Eland_1D_8955.jpg


The next day was a rather exhausting day. We were a bit late out of the camp, and had to travel to Nossob.
We found these springbok on the way, kindly lining up for the photo :D
Springbok_1D_8999.jpg


The classic "Gemsbok at the top of the dune" shot -
Gemsbok_1D_9114.jpg


At Dikbaardskolk, where we stopped for lunch, we were greeted by one of the cutest and prettiest little beggars ever... a Chestnut-Vented Tit-Babbler!
Chestnut-Vented Tit-Babbler_1D_9179.jpg


And lastly, I'll leave you with a shot of the view from the top of Dikbaardskolk over the Nossob river... Very dry and dusty! :shock:
Dikbaardskolk_IMG_8622.jpg


We arrived in Nossob late afternoon, tired from the long drive (especially since the last bit from Dikbaardskolk to Nossob was terribly corrugated), so we decided to check out the hide rather than go on an afternoon drive. We needed to rest, because the next morning we'd be off to Bitterpan!
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Right, sorry for the break :P We had a busy weekend - I didn't get time to get to my laptop to post the next installment, but here it is:

Setting: The Nossob hide, late afternoon.
Condition: Hot and dry and very, very dusty...

Sightings - a few birds, all too small and too far to photograph, and then these guys arrived... :cam: :cam: :cam: :cam:

BlueWildebeest_1D_9303.jpg

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And left again...
BlueWildebeest_1D_9422.jpg

BlueWildebeest_1D_9423.jpg


With last stragglers rushing to catch up with the herd...
BlueWildebeest_1D_9433.jpg
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Posts: 355
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Thanks Jan and manicwalker! The dust is quite iconic, isn't it?

4 September... and off to Bitterpan!

Now, as the video will show, we are not experts. At all. Some places we struggled, and some places we struggled because hubby was trying to figure out how far he can push the fortuner... Anyway, it was an adventure and we had fun. And after it all, we were surprised to find that we were first to arrive at the camp 8)



Herd of Red Hartebeest crossing the pan in searing heat...
RedHartebeest_FE5A0040.jpg


Ahhh... this is what life is supposed to be!
Bitterpan_Sunset_Braai_IMG_8684.jpg
Last edited by squirrel_asc on Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:17 am
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Some photos from Bitterpan... :cam: :cam:

Lone Gemsbok digging for salt on the pan -
Gemsbok_Bitterpan_FE5A0084.jpg


The sun coming out after a cloudy morning -
Bitterpan_IMG_8666.jpg


Honey Badger cruising by the camp -
HoneyBadger_1D_9529.jpg


Challenging an intruder, late afternoon -
Gemsbokke_Bitterpan_FE5A0250.jpg

GemsbokkeBitterpan_FE5A0330.jpg


Sunset -
Bitterpan_Sunset_IMG_8667.jpg


Brown Hyaena, early on the second morning -
BrownHyaena_FE5A0463.jpg


And then a second Brown Hyaena arrived, and chaos ensued :shock: Unfortunately I ran out of photography talent in the excitement of two Hyaenas chasing each other around the camp, so I can only leave you with these two shots:
BrownHyaena_FE5A0589.jpg

BrownHyaena_1D_9573.jpg


It was an incredibly experience anyway!

I will end with my impressions of Bitterpan as a camp -
I loved every minute of it. We had incredible sightings (There were also Jackals at the waterhole, including two fighting, of which I couldn't get photos, unfortunately). On the second night, after dark, there was also a Leopard. We lay awake that night to the sound of the Leopard and Brown Hyaenas, and even Honey Badgers challenging each other all around the camp.

Loved being able to stumble out of bed , get a quick cup of coffee, and be ready to enjoy and photograph any sightings within minute - no driving needed!
I loved being able to light the braai fire while still game viewing...

The only thing I didn't love, was the kitchen being so far from the action (ok, I know, I got greedy :roll: )

I suspect we were lucky with our sightings and honestly we probably won't do Bitterpan in every Kgalagadi trip, just because it is such a mission to get there (even though it was fun, it was also very tiring). We will definitely do it again sometime, though, and I most definitely recommend it for anyone who is up to the drive there :D
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Murder on the Nossob road!
(A Kgalagadi short story)

Setting: Bedinkt Waterhole on the Nossob road

The body was discovered early morning, lying in the road next to the Bedinkt waterhole.
BrownHyaenaCarcass_1D_9786.jpg

Cause of death was determined as having its throad ripped open :shock:

This suspicious character was found loitering near the crime scene -
Lion_1D_9698.jpg


First investigations revealed that the suspect had an injured front paw -
Lion_1D_9721.jpg

Lion_1D_9728.jpg


And a very full tummy -
Lion_1D_9752.jpg


When confronted, the suspect denied that there even was a crime, quoting "The law of the Jungle."
Lion_1D_9753.jpg


Arrest was postponed to give the investigating officer time to consult with prosecutors about this alleged legislation.

Upon returning to the scene of the crime, it was discovered that the suspect had disappeared. It is suspected that he snuck across the border into Botswana during the night.

The cleanup crew had also already moved in -
Jackal_eating_Hyaena_1D_0094.jpg

Jackal_eating_Hyaena_1D_0099.jpg

Jackal_eating_Hyaena_1D_0113.jpg


I got this... your help isn't needed!
Jackal_eating_Hyaena_1D_0159.jpg


CASE CLOSED.
NO ARRESTS...
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

For this installment, I'll let the photos do the talking. There really isn't very much I can add!

Second morning of driving North from Nossob... It was freezing cold and the other cars on the road quickly left us behind. We were all alone when, just after Kwang, this happened...

Cheetah_FE5A0949.jpg

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CHeetah_1D_0042.jpg

Cheetah_1D_9962.jpg


The entire event lasted just under 30 minutes, during which no other cars passed us. Definitely up there among the best experiences of my life! :dance: :dance:
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

After the cheetahs and the clean-up crew, we finally made it to Lijersdraai where we stopped for lunch. (We had intended to go all the way up to Union's end, but....well. We're slow :P )

Our lunch was enlivened by these little cuties...
FourStripedMouse_1D_0227.jpg

FourStripedGrassMice_1D_0243.jpg

FourStripedGrassMouse_1D_0254.jpg

(Yup not the best photos, but one of those sighting one has to document!)

Also... Sunset drive from Nossob -
We booked the sunset drive in the hope of seeing some nocturnal critters... Unfortunately, the nocturnal critters didn't quice co-operate. We saw some beautiful scenes, like this no-access road -
NoAccessRoad_1D_0353.jpg


And a herd of two of Springbok
Springbok_1D_0362.jpg


And one Brown Hyaena after dark. Oh well, we all know they don't guarantee sightings on these drives. Still a bit disappointing, though :(

Lastly - if anyone reading this is planning a stay in Nossob - I seriously recommend ordering their freshly back bread. Absolutely delicious! :great: :great:
NossobBroodjie_IMG_8721.jpg
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Posts: 355
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

Next day... Saying goodbye to Nossob and moving to Mata-mata.

First cool sighting was this chilled little guy at a lookout near Kamqua...
Agama_1D_0423.jpg

Agama_1D_0425.jpg


Late afternoon found us on the road from Kamqua to Mata-mata (yes, we're slow :P )... In my opinion, this was the most beautiful part of the park! Those high red dunes, combined with the large thorn trees in the river bed... Wow!

OstritchInLandscape_1D_0436.jpg

AuobRiverRoad_IMG_8761.jpg

GemsbokInLandscape_1D_0447.jpg


Finally made it to Mata-mata just before sunset, checked in and walked to the hide in the last light... and found the camp's resident squirrel colony :D
Squirrel_1D_0482.jpg
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
squirrel_asc
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Re: Tales from the Kgalagadi

Unread post by squirrel_asc »

For the next installment - a few random photos from around Mata-mata and up to Kamqua...

Pygmy Falcon surveying his domain...
PygmyFalcon_FE5A1116.jpg


Lanner Falcon at Veertiende Boorgat
LannerFalcon_FE5A1153.jpg


More scenery shots... just because I couldn't resist!
RoadToMataMata_IMG_8777.jpg

MataMataPad_IMG_8781.jpg


And one of the most welcome sights we saw in the park :tongue:
Trekker_1D_0552.jpg


Some Giraffe -
Kameelperde_1D_0946.jpg

Giraffes_1D_1153.jpg

Giraffes_1D_1158.jpg


A lone Springbok grazing...
Springbok_1D_0950.jpg


And a Drongo
Drongo_FE5A1267.jpg



And finally... while at 13th Borehole with a few other cars, waiting for a Leopard that was lurking on the dune to come down to drink (It never came :( , although we did get a glimpse if it walking away), we spotted someone sleeping under a bush...
CapeFox_FE5A1190.jpg
"Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace" 8)

Kgalagadi: 31 Aug - 14 Sep 2019 - Travel Tale
Pretorius Kop: 7 - 14 Mar 2020 :dance: :dance:
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