|Posted on July 10, 2018 at 2:05 PM|
As we sleep, the night time critters come to visit our camp. The first time we have used our new NIGHT CAMERA and it’s great to wake up and see who comes around. See the 1st night cam video in the video page.
We have bumped slowly over corrugated tracks, traversed over sandy dunes, been out in the bush most of the time, and poor Huberta (our expedition camper) getting scratched and beaten by bushes and branches has rolled along strong every inch of the way. She is a good little camper, doing what she is made to do…. get us anywhere we need to go…. And she does it well.!! Will be sad to see her go when we sell her this trip.
So far, all this trip has been SAFARI in the bush. We visited the South African side of the Kgalagadi this time, Kgalagadi Transfrontier. We were told not to judge the park as we see it this year, as this is the LEAST amount of wildlife they had ever seen here. (comment from a couple who come here every year). Actually we found that EVERY park we have been to so far, was very quiet compared to other years. The Central Kalahari seemed eerily EMPTY, a huge change from last time we were here.
Back in the Transfrontier, we stayed 11 nights, in each of the main camps as well as Bitterpans, where it is a pity we did not start using our night camera then, because in the morning we found both Lion and Leopard prints pass by our cabin and would have been great to see the video.
Sadly, in a different place, we came across one Leopard who was laying in the middle of the road. Was still breathing, but not very responsive. We thought he will surely die, but to this day, I am not sure what happened to him, as we heard reports of a sickly leopard a few days later, still alive and responsive enough to growl, so we don’t know. Is hard to find something like that, because our basic instinct is to help it…. But out here, unless it is caused by human hands, you must watch nature control it’s own world.
Our best sightings up to date were 3 cheetah who we saw about 300mts to our left under a bush. We waited… it was obvious they wanted to hunt, they eventually walked over towards us, checking us out as they came. They crossed the road in front of us and settled under a bush just 15-20mts up right of us. We were really excited to have such a close view, and they took turns in sitting up to check the area for would-be lunch meals. Then, they saw a Springbok that looked possible and the 3 of them trotted up the road away from us. Two went into the bush and the third stayed back, it was an obvious calculation of all being in the right place. When the action happened, it was fast, and sad to say, we had a bushy tree in front of the real action so missed most of it…. But… the cats walked back tired and hungry. They missed their target, and we could see the springbok standing back behind the cats as they walked back up the road towards us again, and then off into the bush.
We had seen another good sighting of a pack of Cheetah who where eating their kill, with a Jackal laying only a few meters from them, waiting his time before he could get in there to grab a piece. The cats got annoyed with him and one of them gave chase to scare him away. They moved their lunch away, but left what looks like the stomach which the Jackal took for his own lunch.
The one and only LIONS we have seen to date was a good sighting, as they had just crossed the road, so close enough to see easily as they walked up to a tree for a rest. Mum needed to be on the out-look, so went a little higher and watch over the terrain with a eagle eye while the 2 cubs (6-12 mths old) played or waited under another bush. We were with them for about 30 minutes.
We were lucky enough to catch sight of a pair of HONEYBADGERS in Central Kalahari. I say this, because their fur blended so well in the low grey bushes. Like all sightings here, you may only get a glimpse of something way in the distance, or in the shadows, before checking it out to see what it is. I did not expect to see the Honey badgers during the day, but we did learn that you will usually find a few GOSHAWK and JACKAL around where the Honey badgers are fossicking, because they know they can get the small critters that run from the other adjoining holes to get away.
We also visited Marakele game reserve. A place we knew nothing about, but needed to camp for a night. This was a really awesome game reserve with camping overlooking the water hole which allows all the wild life to visit your camp, except the Ele’s. (we were surprised to learn that this is a Big 5 park). In the morning we decided to drive up to the lookout on the other side of the tunnel, this was long steep single road with a steep drop off. Yuk. But the views were awesome. Along the way is where we found a decent size herd of elephants, with many young ones, just in the bushes on the side of the road. Then we watched as the big bull ele, lifted his trunk to smell us and the area around. From there he moved out of those bushes and across the road. We waited as a few more ele’s crossed the road, and once the big bull, who apparently was in full Musst, was gone down the road further, we moved on. As we passed the herd in the bushes just to our left, one of the mums gave us a good head shake and bit of a trump,, then as we drove around the bend, we could see the big bull in the bushes to our left up ahead. Bob chose to give him space and check him out first to make sure the bull was easy with us moving on, but as we went to go, another car passed us and the big bull was no longer happy to stay in the bushes, and came back out onto the road heading our way. We waited, but it was obvious HE wanted right of way, so we did an about face and drove back to where the herd was until he had vanished into the bush once more. He was a BIG BOY that you didn’t want to play with.!!
Giraffe have given us some entertaining viewing this trip. A group of giraffe were all having ‘sparring’ sessions one morning, but one pair were particularly good, and in my photo you can see the back hoof of the giraffe up over the other ones head and neck, who was trying to trip him over… almost succeeded.!! Pity was not quick enough to get that one on video!! At a different waterhole, we watched a big boy giraffe come for a drink. Apparently, the side of the waterhole where he entered seems to be much lower that the other side, and he had an enormous amount of trouble trying to spread his front legs wider, then wider, then even W I D E R, as he tried to balance and reach down to snatch a drink. It was really hard work for this poor guy, but he did manage to do it once, before considering coming around the other side where it was a little easier. It is quite amazing to watch how hard it is for the giraffe to get a drink. With their heads down, they are very vulnerable and the blood does not get to their head, so they cant stay there long, but they also are very VERY cautious animals.
We have truly enjoyed our safari this time, spending much time camping and some time in chalets or guest houses, depending on where we are and what our needs are at the time. Currently we are in Mabula game park where we are using a week of our TIMESHARE. We LOVE this place. The 2 bedroom traditional African style chalet is tucked away in the bush, and with the big windows and glass doors, you feel right at home. The HORNBILL (my favourite bird here), monkeys and tree squirrels are our constant companions, (mind you the monkey came in and stole my chocolate bar off the coffee table as I was working), but most parts it is great. The only fencing here, a few meters away, is to stop the elephants from coming to your chalet, but everything else can. As we sat outside around our fire one night, we watched a group of BUSH PIGS make their way through, they have come a couple of times, as well as the Antelope who pass by, particularly at night, first one direction, around midnight, then back the other direction around 6 in the morning. We have had one cat pass by our night camera which we have in front of our chalet. We are not 100% what kind of cat it is yet, but the possibilities are GENET, SERVAL, WILD CAT, OR LEOPARD, all of which are around and can pass through anytime. These cats are mainly active at night.
How cool is this…. As I just went outside to have my lunch in the sun, a family of WARTHOGS come snooping around to see what they can find. At first they are unsure of us, they fossick around, then even come up to us, standing on our deck to see if we have anything. As much as I really love this, we don’t feed them, cause those tusks can be quite nasty if they don’t get their own way.
Well, there is too much to tell, but check out the photos in the gallery and don’t forget, I try to put videos in the video page, including our NIGHT CAM movie I made. So, let me close here, and I will update in another month or so, at the end of trip.
In the words of our land Rover friends. ONE LIFE…. …. LIVE IT.