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Kgalagadi Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail

Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mokala, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld
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Scouter
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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Scouter » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:10 am

Hi Miros and a very warm welcome to the Forum :thumbs_up: Just wanted to say a huge thank you for this thread and for posting your 4x4 trail experiences - each one is so different and unique ..... Your photos are stunning too, thank you. It's wonderful to see the trail all cloaked in beautiful bright green and flowers !!

This is what Eileen's Pan looked like at the end of November last year :D

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And our view of Witgat waterhole/swimming spot :wink: with a massive thunderstorm brewing ....

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Hope you are having another amazing trip - cant wait to hear about it when you get back. Thanks again !!
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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Son godin » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:29 pm

Hi Miros,

Welcome to the Kgalagadi and I hope you enjoy your time there and even stay on for longer. :wink:
Stunning pics of the trail and great reporting back on the trips. Wish I could have done the trip a bit later in March/April when its much greener. :clap: :clap: :clap:

When we did the trip we were ground dwellers and luckily did not meet any lions. I've just added a few pics to show the contrast between now and November. All the pics were taken at Witgat. Just love that swimmimg pool at Witgat. :thumbs_up:

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Trip Reports - Painted, spotted and striped animals of the Koppies, TT of Three Arid Parks near Namibia in April 2015

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:32 pm

March 19 – 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another fantastic trail completed!

I’ll edit this post to add pictures, which I’m afraid I’m somewhat behind on. =/
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:35 pm

March 26-29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

All in all, a truly excellent trail!

I’ll be adding pictures next week – I’m a bit behind in my photoshopping! Off on another trail tomorrow – until next time!
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

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

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Scouter » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:15 am

:thumbs_up: Thank you !!!! We tried in November - at about 2.30 in the afternoon so the sand was hot and loose and our tyres were WAY too high we now realise - about 1.4 I think - got to about 2 metres from the top on our best try where it does a slight bend to left :( so holding thumbs for you .... only 3 cars in our convoy of 9 got over and Landies ( especially our beloved Defenders) have a bit of a reputation for getting stuck and not having enough momentum for the final push to the top ...

Enjoy the trip and especially the trail - it is so gorgeous - remote and just a thrill to drive so far away from the normal roads - it will still be nice and green in May so that should be great and the weather better than end November when it got up to mid 40's with rain and thunderstorms evry night ... Did you see the photos KG put up on the camera trap thread yesterday of all the lions and hyenas at Witgat ?? :big_eyes: Enjoy :thumbs_up:
We can do no great things, only small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Switchback » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:38 am

Defender TAZ wrote:... 2nd Lowrange, tyres 1 bar or even 0.8 bar


Pull away in 2'nd gear LR and then speed up to 3'rd an even 4'th LR - otherwise you won't have enough speed :thumbs_up: Tyres at 0.8 bar, and not the 0.8 bar you measured when you started the trail early in the morning, because of the heat caused by friction, the warm sand and sun etc, your tyre pressures can go up by 0.4 bar. Measure before you climb Big Bertha. :thumbs_up:
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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:15 pm

April 2 – 5

This week we switched back to running the trail north again, heading out from Twee Riveren towards Witgat on our first day. We had great luck en route to the trail, finding the tiniest baby leopard tortoise I’d ever seen! It was quite clearly less then a year old, and the children I had with this group were all delighted to pet the tiny shell while the tortoise peered at them from between his feet.

This first day was one for the birds! We saw all the usual antelope, but also managed to spot a Bateleur flying overhead, several PCGs (both adults and juveniles), and ostrich. A rarer sight, however, was an African hoopoe which flew along side our convoy for a while, before disappearing up into the dunes.

We were also quite excited to find a fresh set of leopard tracks, not 5 km out from camp, which lead right up to the Witgat waterhole, before vanishing into the bush. It looked like t had wandered through the night before. The first leopard tracks I’ve found on the trail!!

Our first night at Witgat was quiet, right up until the sun rose, when one of my early-rising guests spotted a hyena wandering past the camp site en route to the waterhole while he was watching the sunrise from the safety (and warmth!) of his sleeping bag.

We checked the waterhole, but aside from tracks from the waterhole’s complement of doves, didn’t find any tracks from the night before – even the brown hyena seemed to have bypassed it. So, we set off from camp, enjoying the cool morning air.

Our second day was special for the two black-backed jackals that we spotted, right near the road, that were quite cooperative, standing and peering at us while we peered right back at them. We also saw the usual complement of steenbok, gemsbok, and PCGs, as well as an orchestra of ostrich and a massive herd of hartebeest to round out the day.

That night in Rosynjiebos, we were serenaded over night by a small group of hyenas, which called from a few kilometres away for a good hour or so. Apparently their raucous laughter woke some lions, who then took up the challenge, setting up a nice duet between the two groups, and keeping us awake well into the night – and the next morning! The lions continued calling up until around 8am, but despite crawling onto the roves of our vehicles, we were unable to spot them in the distance. They were not far off – only about 2 or 3kms by our reckoning, but they remained elusive and away from our bustle of setting up camp.

What we did find in camp, however, was no less exciting: caracal prints! The best example, unfortunately, got stepped on before I could snap a photo of this extremely rare find, but t looked like it had wandered into camp in the hopes of avoiding whatever chaos the hyena and lions were up to in the night.

Our third day was excellent for birds, but rather slow on the ground-dwelling sightings. We managed to spot Swallow-tailed bee-eaters, shaft-tailed whydah, a tawny eagle being mobbed by two PCGs, and the usual complement of kori bustards. As for the antelope, we spent lunch with the gemsbok and hartebeest that are the permanent residents of Eileen’s pan, and spotted a few other hers of each with a few steenbok in the mix to keep things lively.

As we got near to camp, we spotted a fresh set of lion prints, and found where they had spent the night. They appeared to have been running about and playing under some trees, as the tracks crisscrossed the sand and our track, before disappearing over the dunes. We continued to camp and set up for another wonderful night under the Kalahari stars, eating dinner while the jackals called nearby.

On our final day, my guests elected to take the bitterpan shortcut off the trail, as they were spending the night in TW, and wanted a slightly shorter drive for the day. We did still manage to find some spectacled mousebirds along the route before I dropped them off in Nossob and ended another wonderful trail!
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:17 pm

April 9 – 12

Our first day dawned cold and windy - only 6oC, which felt very brisk after weeks of 30+ temperatures during the day! Despite the chilly breeze, we set off for the trail in high spirits, hoping that the cooler temperature would keep the predators active well into the day.

Indeed, our hope was not misplaced! Not far north of Leeuwdril, we came across a small group of lions near the road! A big male and two females were lying in the grass, focused intently on a small herd of gemsbok that were grazing nearby. We sat with the group for about an hour as the lionesses took turns lying down into the grass, and then sitting up to stare at the gemsbok. However, it was a stalemate: the lions didn’t make any move to stalk the gemsbok, and the gemsbok seemed content to tease both us and the lions by staying put and refusing to move towards or away from the tempted lions. Eventually, we gave up hope of seeing any action, and moved on to start of the trail.

We were greeted at the start of the trail by a large herd of wildebeest and gemsbok, grazing along the riverbed which watched us from a safe distance as I went through my pre-trail briefing and general introduction to dune driving. From there, we continued on seeing several large herds of gemsbok, several groups of ostrich, and some PCGs standing their usual sentinel along the route.

Once we arrived at Witgat (a little later then usual, thanks to the lion-hunt-that-wasn’t), we were delighted to find lion tracks all throughout the campsite. There had been some wind all day, so it was difficult to determine just how fresh they were, but the sheltered ones looked like the lions had spent the night in camp, and had moved out earlier that morning. We set up camp and built up a large fire in the hopes that they would come by and investigate in the night.

Sadly though, the night was quiet, and we couldn’t find any fresh tracks through camp or at the waterhole in the morning. It was probably due to the rather sharp drop in temperature overnight. We woke to a chilly 4oC! Definitely hard to get used to, when I’m so acclimatized to the high 30’s!

We set out from camp and had a rather quiet day, seeing only a few steenbok, ostrich, gemsbok, and the usual PCGs, but we were lucky to spot a bateleur and tawney eagle flying overhead. Our best sighting, by far, was a small group of eland, which actually stood and stared at us for a bit from a distance – very unlike their usual behaviour of disappearing over the dunes before I can even get my hand on my radio! This was the first eland I’d seen in almost a month, so it was great to finally spot them again.

One of my guests were also very lucky to spot a meercat, which dartedout of the long grass and ran along the road in front of them before vanishing into a waiting burrow. They sat and listened to it alarm for a few minutes, before it disappeared for good. We sat and waited in the hopes it would re-emerge, but the little guy remained snug down his hidey hole.

We pulled into camp and set up while the sun slowly set through the trees in Rosyntjiebos, hoping the chill from the night before wouldn’t return… which turned out to be exactly what happened! We spent another chilly evening huddled around the fire while the jackals called in the distance. It seems like winter is finally on the way.

Early the next morning, while we were still breaking down camp, we heard some lions roaring well off in the distance – right in the direction we were heading! We kept our eyes peeled, but unfortunately the lions proved elusive. We did manage to find plenty of gemsbok and hartebeest along the trail – including my usual friends on Eileen’s Pan – and enjoyed the viewpoints from atop some of the highest dunes along the trail.

We pulled into camp and set up while listening to the barking geckos barking and the jackals howling, and enjoyed a much warmer evening after the last two nights of single digit temperatures. We sat around the fire well into the night, enjoying the stars overhead, until we heard a rustling in the grass just on the other side of the vehicles. I went to investigate, and spotted a brown hyena peering at us from the safety of the shadows! I’ve found prints wandering through Swartbas every single time I’ve been there – either when we arrived, or passing through overnight, so it was fantastic to finally see him!

The following morning dawned beautifully clear, and the photographers of the group had great fun chasing swallow-tailed bee-eaters, crimson-breasted shrikes, and a massive praying mantis around the campsite (the mantis was actually quite sedate, actually. Technically they were chasing the 12 year old carrying it around!).

We took to the trail the last day, enjoying views of the usual ‘boks, ostriches, and PCGs, before I dropped every one off at the end of the trail.
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:18 pm

April 16 – 19

This trail was extra special for me, as two f my guests were my parents! I was quite excited to lead them out into the bush and show them how I was spending my year in South Africa.

On our way to the trail, we were quite lucky to see several jackals, a tawny eagle, and several bateleurs – including a juvenile flying overhead. However, once we arrived on the trail we immediately got rained on – of course! We were surrounded by massive thunderclouds the entire day, and drove through small patches of rain that ranged from light spitting to sudden downpour.

Despite the dampness, we had quite an active first day, seeing plenty of the usual ‘boks: gemsbok, steenbok, hartebeest, and wildebeest. We also saw several PCGs, kori bustards, and secretary birds. But the most interesting sighting was a nightjar, which had been sleeping in the road until we rudely awoke it. We had excellent timing, driving into camp just as it finished raining itself out, and enjoyed a nice dry evening in camp. It did rain on us overnight, but by that point we were snug in our beds, listening to the patter of raindrops on canvas as well as jackals and lions calling in the distance.

To start off our second day, we wandered down to Witgat’s waterhole, and found some beautifully fresh brown hyena prints that came down to the waterhole shortly after the rain stopped. The prints were extremely crisp, and perfectly showed the clawtips, toes, and pads, as well as the thick fur that intersperse the toes in this species.

Once on the road, we had an excellent bird day, spotting a wide range of really fantastic bird life: spotted dikkops in the shade of a bush, a juvenile bateleur flying overhead, several kori bustards, a lilac-breasted roller, ant-eating chats, two African hoopoes, and a pair of spotted eagle owls sitting in a tree right beside the road.

As for non-bird life on our second day, we saw the usual gemsbok, steenbok and hartebeest – including one gemsbok with a horn that had quite clearly snapped in two! However, the most exciting find of the day was a freshly-dug aardvark hole – right in the middle of our road! It was a good thing I had glanced at the road ahead when I did, otherwise I would have sunk my Hilux straight down to the chassis!

We all got out to investigate, and it looked like the burrow had been dug overnight, as there was no sign of rain disturbing the sand that had been dug out of the hole. As we continued along the trail, we could see his perfectly formed footprints wandering along the road for several kilometres, digging little exploratory holes as it searched for ants and termites, before his tracks disappeared off into the bush. An extremely exciting find!!

We pulled into camp our second night and set up under a beautiful blue sky, with beautiful big puffy clouds covering the horizon in every direction. Our second night was, thankfully, dry, allowing us to dry out our things nicely after the rain of the day before. We had an excellent evening around the fire, and settled in listening to jackals calling in the distance and enjoying a perfectly clear sky above.

Our third day dawned bright and clear, with hardly a cloud in the sky. We set off and used the large dunes of the morning leading out of camp for several of my guests to test out the differential lock system of their vehicles. There was quite some debate between myself and my guests on whether the diff system would make the dune climbing easier or impossible. The debate only ended after each car failed to make it more then half way up the dune with the diff locks engaged!

The trick to dune driving is a combination of momentum and power: having too much of one and not enough of the other is a sure fire way to sink yourself down into the sand. While diff locks will give you plenty of power evenly distributed to all four wheels, your lack of momentum will use that power to quite quickly toss sand into the air as you try to make your way up the steep slopes of a sand dune. I tried to hide my smugness at the results (badly, I’ll admit =D), and after shovelling out the ruts we had created we continued on towards Swartbas.

As we continued along the trail this third day, we had a few wonderful sightings of red hartebeest with some youngsters, steenbok, and gemsbok, as well as some spectacled mousebirds, plenty of pale chanting goshawks, as well as a crimson breasted shrike flying along beside our vehicles, as well as our usual lunch-time companions of gemsbok and hartebeest wandering along Eileen’s pan.

We pulled into camp and set our chairs up in the ample shade of the sweet thorn trees at Swartbas, and enjoyed a fire while the sun set over the dunes. That night, we got to listen to the jackals calling in the distance, and woke the next morning to the sound of lions in the distance.

Our last day was an exciting one. It started off with some beautifully fresh brown hyena prints that wandered through our camp. I was glad to see that I’d not spooked him away when I spotted him last week!

Once on the trail, we did manage to see a porcupine scurrying away from our convoy and up over a dune! I figure it was likely sleeping under one of the many blackthorns in the area, and our passing woke it and scared it off. We didn’t get a great look at it before it vanished, but we got an excellent look at the freshly-made prints as well as the drag marks left behind by the quills. We also saw a heard of hartebeest with some youngsters, black-backed jackals, PCGs, and plenty of both red-crested and black korhaans.

A fantastic end to another amazing trail!
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Sun May 06, 2012 11:26 am

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

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Thu May 31, 2012 4:26 pm

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

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:37 am

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

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:28 pm

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

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

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Defender TAZ » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:01 pm

Scouter wrote:Welcome to the forum Defender TAZ - hope you have an amazing time in KTP and enjoy the Eco Trail - its stunning :thumbs_up: and please can I ask a favour for all us Defender drivers who have tried and failed - please get over Big Bertha for us :pray: :slap:


So... we did the trail on the 28 to 31 May. What an experience. We were the only vehicle on the trail, with Miros. Basically a personalised tour of the Kalahari :D Well, when Big Bertha came up, Miros stormed up and then it was our turn, with a faily loaded Defender. . Tyres down to 0.8 bar. 3rd low, up to fourth low and stormed the dune. As the revs dropped, foot on the gas and a very quick shift back to 3rd and we sailed over the top. 1st time. So there we celebrated and held the flag high for the Defender drivers

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Kgalagadi Guru » Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:30 am

Nossob 4x4 eco trail report July 02 – 05 2012
Day 1

Starting at Nossob on a sunny winter’s morning and after some rearranging of luggage 6 vehicles and 20 intrepid explorers and a guide began the Nossob 4X4 trail. Traveling north we came to the beginning of the trail were some useful tips and advice on how to tackle the trail was inparted we set off in too the desert for our 4 day adventure. Shortly after the start of the trail we stopped for the days lunch break were there was nervous chatter about what lay ahead. With lunch finished we set off to see what the desert and its animals had in store for us. A pleasant drive through undulating savanna that makes up this part of the trail we had sightings of some female kudu and a magnificent bull with spiraling horns, along with this sightings of gemsbok, steenbok and jackal who on this trail become come sighting yet pleasant all the same. Arriving at Swartbas the first camp on the trail, the tents and cooking places were quickly erected. We then settled in to enjoy a pleasant African evening under a full moon. With a braai fire burning the African night set in we set about braaing supper. Having enjoyed an amazing supper and each others company we began to drift off to bed one by one. As the last of us were heading off to bed their was a shout of hyena and at the edge of the camp in the torch light was a large spotted hyena. After a brief glance around around it took of into the night. There exited murmurs by those that had seen it and groans by those who had missed it. This was too set up for an exiting adventure.

Day 2
Waking shortly before 07H00 to an overcast day a check of the camp proved that we had had no other vests during the night. After an unusual breakfast we pack up the camp and set off for another day of adventure. With in the first 20 km we had stopped counting Eland at around 100 and we had seen around 5 herds with some amazing specimens among them. After having marveled over the Eland we took a short stop at Eileen pan to take in the view and share thoughts on the amazing Eland sightings. We then set forth to tackle the challenge of the trail that of Bertha dune. After briefly stopping off to look at the view and teach more about the role that silver cluster leaves play in Kalahari we arrived at the mighty bertha dune. All but one vehicle were successful in concurring the mighty dune we stopped on the other side for lunch and to discuss how each of the vehicles had tackled the dune. With all the stories finished and lunch eaten we headed off to the second nights camp sight. Arriving at the second camp site that of Rosyntjiebos, camp was quickly set up and a pleasant quit night yet very pleasant night was had under the African stars.

Day 3

Rising shortly before 07H00 to another partially over cast day and yet another night of no visitors. This was starting to build the pressure for a last night that would need some African ambiance. Striking camp we set off stopping off at the local view point to take in the vast expanse of the Kgalagadi. Other than the stop at lunch the drive through was pleasant. Yet what lay ahead. Arriving at swartbas the camp for the last night we sighted at large male off on one of the dunes. He looked at us and went back to sleep, the same drill of setting up camp and preparing supper went with out worry besides the checking of the were about of the lion, with the aid of a spot light we made regular checks of the water hole that is near the camp sight, we were rewarded with the sighting of a brown hyena that had come to the water hole to drink. While clearing up after supper we heard an African sound that goes right through you that of an African male lion calling off in the distance only for our resident male to respond thus sending shivers down our spines. This talk continued back and forth for a good few minutes about what would happen next. A few minutes later we heard the roar again yet this time they were on the move. The spot light come on and the kids were moved to safety we then saw the there were two magnificent male lions at the water hole drinking. After their fill the moved passed the ware tank and up passed the camp to within about 50meters of us and off into the night making their present heard all the time. They were on their way to investigate the intentions of the intruder in their territory. The excitement around the camp was at fever pitch and there was none stop talk of movements of the lions this was an amazing series of events too witness. It did not stop there the could be heard calling through out the night.

Day 4

After little sleep after spending the night listening to the lions again we were up at around 07h00. With the last night still fresh in our minds the morning was continue with the excitement, as we were visited on regular basis’s by brown hyena coming to the water hole to drink. After interrupting our packing up to watch the hyenas we continued on the trail. Yet not five minutes out of camp we found the remains of an Eland carcass along with a Brown Hyena white back vultures and black backed jackals. Thus the discovery on why the lions had looked so well fed could be explained. Continueing with our travels we had to contend with porcupine diggings and aardvark holes in the road which added to the challenge of navigating. We stopped at the largest Shepard’s in the park before coming to the end of the trail were we said farewells to friends who had started the trail as strangers.
Head: Field Guiding
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
jan.kriel@sanparks.org


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