Category Archives: Blog

2 December Urikaruus

Today I travelled to Twee Rivieren to phone home (and get some ice for cold beer and clamps to stop the gas leak from my fridge). On the way I found a few Bat Eared Fox families basking in the early morning sun.

Bat Eared Fox family
Bat Eared Fox family playing

 

I could not resist posting this old time favorite, a Gemsbok on a ridge

 

Gemsbok on ridge

and a Springbok

 

Springbok in Kgalagadi sun

 

After breakfast at the restaurant, phoning everyone and collecting the ice and clamps for my fridge I was off back to Urikaruus. While in camp I met Scouter and SO (from Sanparks forum) and she told me they have attended the Xmas present handout the previous day (after finishing an apparently “hot” Forumite 4×4). Thank you very much for all your efforts and hard work in arranging the Xmas present initiative Scouter.

The drive back was rather uneventful except for this Lion at Samevloeiing (I trust KG’s camera did catch it drinking)

 

Female lion sleeping at Samevloeiing

 

on the way back to camp these Hyena were cooling off, watched by the Secretary Bird

 

Hyena bathing

 

I arrived back at a very hot Urikaruus at midday and enjoyed my first cold beer in 2 days. On my arrival I stood outside talking to Mario Fezelas who is busy writing a photography book about Etosha. While we were talking he pointed out a Cape Fox under a log just across the road above the chalets. It came towards us stopped probably 4m from us, squatted down for a wee, turned around and walked up the hill and disappeared into the den. We just looked at one another and shook our heads (unfortunately no photos).

As it was really hot I only left on my afternoon drive (after a cold shower) later than normal (only at 17:00). What I found works like a bomb to cool you down is a buff rinsed in cold water and a 500ml garden spray bottle to “hose yourself down”. I saw the normal general game. The Lion at Dalkeith was nowhere to be seen and during the whole afternoon I only met one other car (at 18:15 my car clocked 38.5C), only 2 other mad guys out on the road in this heat (I should tell them about my buff and water spray!) My rule is I never drive with the aircon on and my window always open (the downside is the dust but at least I can really then be part of KTP).

On the way back to camp I drove every loop (13th and 14th) and found this Lilac-brested Roller in a tree

Lilac-brested Roller

This was my last night this trip at Urikaruus and I wonder if the resident Leopard will visit…..

 

I like to have all the doors (and windows) open but can then not switch on any lights (attack goggos) but a torch and head lamp are there to be used. Great was my surprise when, while preparing my salad, I suddenly notice a movement next to me at the sink!!! A rat. Now I don’t mind mice but rats, no go. I chased him and he disappeared behind the fridge. I hope he leaves before I go to bed as I don’t want to pack everything away this evening.

1 December Urikaruus

I woke up this morning to find it fairly light outside!! Did my cell alarm not go off? I quickly checked the time and found it to already be 5:45, 15 min past the start of traveling time!! Just then my alarm went off, I obviously set it for 5:45 in stead of 4:45. As I arrived in the kitchen to make some coffee before leaving I first checked the fridge. Still everything was luke warm. Reported this to Eric, the camp attendant as I collected my permit.

Just before the loop to 13th waterhole I saw this Cheetah with a radio collar walking towards me next to the road.

She was very interested in something in the river bed and would stop every few meters and stare to only then continue on. She eventually crossed the road and disappeared over the ridge to the right.

Highway patrol

I spotted some general game including some Springbok and these Gemsbok

 

Gemsbok staring

At Dalkeith waterhole I found the male Lion of yesterday sleeping in the shade of a tree close to the waterhole. He eventually sat up and I noticed he had killed a Porcupine as he still had some quills around his mouth (noticed the killing site some few meters earlier on the road.)

 

Male lion with porcupine quills

 

He gave a few yawns,

Old male lion yawning

 

and then got up to have a drink of water

 

Male lion going for drink

 

Unfortunately his best side but to just confirm that he indeed was a male…. He then made his way to an nice shady spot on the right hand side of the waterhole and plonked down for another rest, the life of a king!

 

I decided to return to camp (and check the fridge)! I stopped of at 13th waterhole watch this amazing onslaught onto the water. There were so many Red-billed Quellea and they were so fast I think they have no chance of drinking

 

Chaos at the waterhole

Back at camp I received confirmation from Eric that my fridge was not working and he reported it to Technical at Twee Rivieren. He kindly offered to put my meat in his freezer as it was probably not going to survive in mine. I wonder if they will do anything about it…? I still have lots of fruit, yogurt and cheese in my white metal box (supposed to be a fridge!!)

Eric, the Urikaruus camp attendant, later came to tell me that they are on their way from Twee Rivieren with a replacement fridge (at last, my beer is warm….) Bennett from the tourism department arrived at +- 12:00 and after some battling up the stairs I had a new fridge installed.

 

Fridge replacement

 

I asked them if they tested it before sending it and Bennett answered in the affirmative (I should have asked for a QA certificate……). They did not even send a clamp to attach the gas pipe!! Eric tried to improvise with a piece of wire but yes you guessed it, it leaked gas and as I discovered on my return from my afternoon drive it also does not work properly. My second day running without cold beer and my food is going off (I can do with losing some weight but hell I paid good money for the chalet)! While the two gentlemen were struggling with my fridge I had some visitors at the waterhole

 

Urikaruus waterhole

I left camp at 16:00 and decided to drive in the direction of Mata Mata. I again found my Spotted Thick-knee and this time noticed the other one sitting on a nest.

 

Spotted Thick-knee on nest

At 13th waterhole two Brown Snake Eagles were about to take a drink. The one immediately flew off but the second one entertained me for some time before also flying off.

Twany Eagle

 

At Craig Lockhardt I came across some lions but they were really doing what lions do best, sleeping. The one female eventually got up and went for a drink. She was not eager to wet her feet…

Lion female jumping at Craig Lockhardt

Just the other side of Dalkeith the female with the abrasions on her side was again walking in the road towards the waterhole. Unfortunately I was running out of time and could not go back to see her drink. It was now obvious that she was not pregnant but was still looking worse for wear.

 

Female lion in road

 

Female lion drinking

30 November Mata Mata to Urikaruus

 

As I was moving to Urikaruus today I started packing the car after breakfast and left camp just before 7:00. The viewing was once again fairly slow until I reached the Auob river bed. I spotted the Cheetah mother and her two cubs (that was robbed of their meal by the male Lion). They were stalking a lone Springbok male but he was so far away and moved off so they abandoned the hunt. I also met Katydownunder on the way and we had a short chat in the shade of a huge Camel Thorn tree. I stopped at Dalkeith waiting for some action but nothing happened. Some kind tourist drove past, stopped after +- 50 m and reversed back to the waterhole to tell me that there was a male Lion lying under a tree up ahead. I quickly went to investigate and he was kind enough to move to another tree with more shade. He was salivating and was walking with a serious limp. Was it the same male than yesterday???

 

Where is the shade?

 

I stopped for this Spotted Thick Knee and

 

Spotted Tick-knee

 

this immature Black Shouldered Kite

 

Black-shouldered Kite

 

and slowly made my way to Urikaruus through the heat of the morning. I arrived at 11:30 and luckily my chalet no. 3 was ready. I quickly unpacked and settled for a cold one and a snack. The wind was really blowing and it was dusty. During the middle of the day it was really hot and so windy but it felt as if the breeze was actually just as warm. After a cold shower I left camp for a late afternoon drive. The animals were probably still hiding as sightings were very quiet. I watched this Black Shouldered Kite catch a mouse and then ripped it apart.

Snack

 

On my return to camp there were 2 Hyenas at the waterhole. They both came to lie down close to the chalets.

 

Spotted hyena drinking

 

My fridge is apparently not working too well as my beers were not even slightly cold. I did overload it but let me check in the morning.

29 November Mata Mata

I arrived at reception at 5:15 waiting to collect my permit. What will KTP reveal to me today? Some predators? Left camp at 5:30 and travelled through the dunes to the Auob river bed. On the way it was very quiet with almost no animals around. Far off I noticed a brown hyena but no photo as it was running away and really far. Arrived at the loop leading to 14th waterhole and arrived probably minutes after a female Cheetah killed a Springbok. She was still sitting panting but her 2 cubs were very eagerly starting to feed on the carcass.

 

Breakfast in KgalagadiNice breakfast
Nice breakfast
Breakfast in Kgalagadi

I spent some time with the three while they were feeding, chasing the Jackal away and feeding some more. I eventually decided to leave to see what else is about. Probably a kilometer further on I found a rather thin male Lion purposefully walking towards me in the riverbed. He probably smelt the kill and was going to claim a free snack. I quickly reversed back to the kill but found the proverbial KTP traffic jam (probably 6 cars). The male Lion sprinted the last meters and the Cheetah trio very quickly departed (they had eaten the hind quarters and some juicy bits). It was the male lion with the broken jaw

 

Where is my breakfast??
Let me eat somewhere else

I decided to return to camp as it was warming up nicely (9:00 and 29C). Just before the road that leads to Dalkeith waterhole I noticed something walking in the road. What another Lion?!

This time a female but she had some mean looking scars on her body and looked very pregnant (or just had an enormous meal). The light was very harsh but I would like to share. I soon realized that she was on her way to have a drink and left her to find myself a prime spot. After waiting a few minute she arrived and had a loooong drink. She must have really been thirsty. After probably 15 minutes of drinking she moved on to the closest tree and plonked down in the shade.

 

Female lion on the way to Dalkeith waterhole
Female lion drinking

 

At Craig Lockhardt  these Springbok entertained me for a short while

 

Springbok at Craig Lockhardt, Kgalagadi

 

By know both my tummy and bladder were complaining (one being empty and the other wanting to burst) so I returned to camp.

 

After filling up and emptying out, some downloading of photos and doing this TR, I enjoyed a catnap in the air-conditioned bedroom of my chalet. I left camp at roughly 16:30 and it was still cooking outside (36C, Africa is not for sissies). I slowly made my way on the only road out of camp and stopped at Sitzas to spend some time with a Secretary Bird that was looking for something to nibble on. It was probably just as fascinated with me as I was with it (how do you tell the different sexes? Are they all female? Secretary??? Real male comment, yes I know….)

 

Secretarybird

 

It found a Lizard and quickly swallowed it down

 

Found it!!

 

As I was having a braai tonight, I decided to return to camp early, not knowing that I will once again spend some time at another sighting of immature Spotted Eagle-Owls

 

Spotted Eagle-Owl

 

Spotted Eagle_owl in setting sun

 

As I approached camp I noticed the beautiful clouds on the horizon, will they bring relief from not only the heat but also provide some much needed rain??

 

28 November Van Zylsrus to Mata Mata

 

As this was probably going to be a hot and long day (first of many) I decided to have an early start. I left Van Zylsrus at 5:00 after a quick cup of coffee and some rusks that were available in my room. It was so nice to travel through the beautiful countryside so early in the morning. On the way I saw quite a lot of game, including some giraffe in the far distance. After stopping for fuel and some mean braai wood in Askham I arrived at the gate of my beloved KTP.

The lady at reception was so nice and friendly. She quickly directed me to the HR lady Ms Mouton to drop of some Xmas gifts for the children. After also leaving some magazines for the bush camp attendants in KG’s office, I decided to buy Eric at Urikaruus some cooldrinks and sweets. I was shocked by how unfriendly the lady behind the counter was. I could not help it but very kindly asked her if she could smile. After her confirmation I asked her to please do it more often….. (I don’t think she liked it but hell we are the customers)!

After deflating my tyres (another unfriendly experience, the attendant suggesting that I do it myself, using a twig that I break off a nearby tree……… no Tsamma awards for this department!) I left for Mata Mata after all the last minute calls home, the children and the office. My dear wife decided to not face the summer KTP heat so this is again a solo trip.

I decided to quickly pop in at Samevloeiing to only find this “KG special anthill”. Some birds have marked their territory.

These camera traps are used in KTP to gain photographic evidence of visitors at various waterholes. These camera are really working very well (http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=38&t=55728)

It was now already heating up and most of the animals were starting to move into the shade. On the way I spotted the normal general game and some birds. This Agama Lizard was enjoying the sunshine although he looked like doing the split.

This Anteating Chat  (Afrikaans Swartpiek) was looking for some clouds to hide the sun

This Red Hartebeest was looking for some relief from the heat

This Blackbreasted Snake Eagle  was looking around for something to eat

After stopping at Urikaruus to drop of the cooldrink and sweets for Jacques (Eric will only be back on Wednesday) I made my way to Mata Mata.

I stopped for a while in the shade at Craig Lockhardt. This White-browed Sparrow-weaver (I think) was scratching around next to the car for some nesting material

At reception I had to wait quite some time to check in as there were some foreign tourists that entered the park from Botswana through KAA gate and never went to 2R to have their documents stamped. They were very unhappy with the lady at reception as she was telling them that Namibia won’t let them in unless they have the necessary stamps, they insisted to talk to her manager and she eventually helped me as they were trying to phone somebody to help them.

Checked into the new chalets (mine was no. 2) and unpacked all my goodies and made sure that I got some beers into the fridge. It is amazing the amount of damage to the walls of the news chalets (inside corners) even at heights where you would not expect it. What are the people doing??

The friendly resident Squirrel welcomed me

I left camp at 16:30 (and forgot to collect my permit…)

This Blouwildebeest  was resting outside camp in the shade

It was a fairly quiet afternoon as far as the sightings went until I came across these young Spotted Eagle Owls I spent some time with them

Throughout the afternoon the clouds started building up and just after I arrived at Craig Lockhardt, it started raining, first softly and then a heavy downpour for a few minutes. The smell of the fresh rain on the soil will always be so special, more so in a very dry KTP.

Summer visit to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

This blog will rather focus on the photographic side of the visit than long narration (with a few exceptions here and there) My itinerary was as follows:

28 – 29 November, Mata Mata

30 Nov – 2 December, Urikaruus

3 – 4 December, Mata Mata

It was a trip of rather extremes – from very hot and dusty to a very nice thunder storm, very friendly staff to outright rude people, excellent sightings to rather quiet periods. Sit back and enjoy the ride…………

I left home at 7:30 and travelled via the N14 to Kuruman. Only “2 stop and go” on the way and can you believe it, I travelled right through both without stopping. Except for the fairly old detour on the way to Ventersdorp and the 2 “stop and go” the road was actually in a very good condition with very little traffic. I left the N14 at Kuruman as I prefer to travel via Van Zylsrus. By now it was fairly hot (36C) and I decided to stop off in Hotazel for something cold….. I should have known better, Sunday 14:00 nobody around and the only shop obviously very closed. So luke warm water from my water bottle in the car will have to do. I arrived at my lodging for the first evening at Van Zylsrus and after a quick cold beer, ok-ish steak hit the bed fairly early. Unfortunately the aircon in my room was only blowing out hot air but I eventually managed to fall asleep after opening the windows and fighting off a few mozzies.