|Posted on June 19, 2014 at 10:10 AM|
OMG....there have been so many awesome things happen since last I wrote, and it is fair to say that my life time wish has been fulfilled.!!
Lets start with Makgadikgadi.... quite a difficult place to find as all the tracks fork off and you never know if your going the right way or not... but eventually you cross the great salt pans, (those of you who watch TOP GEAR would of seen the pans and how exciting it can be driving through them).. The place we were headed for was KUBU ISLAND, which is not an island at all, but fair to say it does look like one at times. After driving miles in bush and salt pans, you finally arrive at this place that is full of granite rocks and giant baobab trees, right in the middle of no-where. It was fascinating to see as we drove around it, but we opted not to camp here as the government or powers that be, had put the price up to some extraordinary level for internationals to visit the sight and even more to camp there. We had seen enough and got some pics on the way, so we headed to the ‘Adventure campsite’ 19kms away. (No, there was no adventure and it was pretty basic,... even ran out of supplies in the bar,. but.. it was far more reasonable pricing.)
Next we headed to Central Kalahari, another place we had been recommended to go to. Glad we did... it was great to ‘bush camp’ again and enjoy the real feel of having the wildlife around you both day and night. We had not made a booking, so when we got there we knew we were taking a chance on getting a site, but, they let us camp outside the main gate for free til a site was available the next day. Actually, we had a mouse problem... not plagued, but ONE mouse, who was giving us grief every night. So much so, that instead of taking a site in the game park, we opted to stay outside one more day, and completely take everything out of the camper, and search it high and low.... a few days later we even took the camper off the car for the first time just so we could get rid of this critter..... finally it worked.!!
Back inside the game park, it was lovely. Strange how we were always treated to one special sighting each day. On our first day, we saw a mother CHEETAH walking her 2 cubs down the road in front of us... and not just quickly, they took their time before heading into the bush.
Next day was even more special, we came across a CARACAL, also leisurely walking along the road in the early morning.... we have only ever seen one of these before, you don't find them easily. Further along that morning, we found something we had NEVER seen before....BAT EARED FOX. You wouldn't believe it, but yep, the three of them walking along the road again. Amazing.
Up early again next morning, (5:30am... I know that will amaze a lot of you, but it is true); on our game-drive and we find a LEOPARD warming herself in the early morning suns rays. further on, we see lots more bat eared fox, JACKALS and even further along we find these birds at the water hole.
Now that might not sound very exciting to most of you, but geez.... it was like sitting in the middle of one of Attenboroughs BBC documentaries. MILLIONS of tiny birds flying in swarms, they look like a cloud in the sky as they fly one way then immediately turn as a group and sore another way. We watched as they fly from one tree to the other, then down to scoop up a quick drink before letting the other group come in. Then, to top it off, a GOSHAWK came in, swooping through the middle trying to catch one of the birds on the wing. It was simply amazing to watch.
Actually I have NEVER taken so many bird photos as I have this past few days. We have seen so many exotic type birds with long tails, one of them doing the dance to impress the lady bird. They even inspired me to get out my tripod for the first time.... so my learning curve begins.!!
Thinking that was it for the day and how lucky we had been, we couldn't believe our luck when we found yet another mother CHEETAH and 2 cubs laying under a tree. One of the cubs (around a year old) was very inquisitive of my lens. As they walked past us, this cub came ever closer, watching into my lens as I stood up out the top of our car thru the open hatch. For a while, both Bob and myself thought she was going to jump on the car to have a better look, but the sound of my shutter of my lens scared her off and she again followed her mum.
OH YES, we also had a LIONESS cross in front of us early in the morning, she looked stunning in the soft morning light, as did the JACKAL who was following along behind her.
One of my greatest hopes and dreams was to get a photo of a animal in the sunset, (seeing as tho I don't see a lot of sun-rises).... but today was my lucky day, and as the sun rose over the horizon, I got out next to the car so I could get down low, and follow the WILDEBEEST and SPRINGBOK who were walking past at the time. Yes, I finally got a photo I had hoped for. Not an elephant or Lion, but nice photo all the same. Not bad for my first attempt.!! In the evening on our way back to camp, I was hoping for a sunset shot, but couldn't get one,.... but.... once again,.... lucky to have something different happen right in front of us. 2 ORYX (Gemsbok) were having a real battle, and the plus side for me is that it happened in the softer sunlight just before setting. To see those two get their very long horns around each others necks was amazing.
Since leaving Central Kalahari, we went toGarborne for a few nights. We stayed at the Beams camping site, close to the city, and, as luck would have it, the BULL & BUSH restaurant next door which had amazing food and atmosphere. We even went to the picture theatre one day, (our first time in 9 months). Would you believe we even have a little fan heater now,.. great for those campsites down south that offer power. SHEER LUXURY!! AND I have some ugg boots for these cold nights.!!! not to mention, we can watch movies on the laptop of the videos we bought. What else could you want.... salmon in a avocado boat maybe. oh yes, just a simple little lunch we make up occasionally. Lets get back to the real stuff.....
The drive out to Kgalagadi was fairly long and the last 35kms was in thick sand, so it took extra time and fuel,... but so worth it. Kgalagadi national reserve itself does not have a lot of animals to boast about, it fact it is darn hard to find some....but all the action comes to you in camp at night.!
Imagine sitting in your bush campsite all alone by your fire,...
no-one around for miles, and just a silent, still, bright moonlit night,.....
then, you hear a quiet, unknown grunt behind you.
At first, you stare into the shadows, then a second later, only 20 metres from you,..
. you see a big MALE LION walking past, along your track.
That was the excitement we had on our first night in camp. It was AWESOME!!!! Bob had his night vision binoculars and was using them, but with such a full moon, you did not need the binoculars at all, I could see the lion and his big mane very well. It was such a exhilarating moment. It was just as if he let his presence be known with his little ‘Huff’. It was kind of.... “evening folks, don't mind me” and he was on his way. Didn't even stop to look at us. As he walked up further, we could hear him call out to his pride late during the night... he wasn’t alone.!!
The one thing you notice about this place, it is QUIET. ABSOLUTELY SILENT. so any sounds you do hear are crisp and clear. It is AMAZING how silently a big cat can walk on the dry grass and not make a sound.!!
I hope to put in the photo of the toilet in our camp. Like most of the toilets supplied in this park, it seems they are used as teething rings for the big cats. Teeth & claw marks are quite evident as well as the front of this loo being chewed off.!!!! Our loo was 50mts from our fire pit. Quite a walk when you know that cat was between the loo and us, and at half the distance!
Next day, we had to change camp sites..... not far, just a km or two up the road a bit. (it was not available for our first night) but this site was even better. We took the camper off the car again and let it free stand. (a little harder this time cause we were in soft sand which made things sink, so we put some cement blocks under the feet and all was well). We soon learnt that it was not much point in the game drives, all we could find was a few Oryx, Ostrich, wildebeest and steenbok.... but the views were lovely when you reached a new pan. Between pans it was very bushy & sandy.
In camp next morning Bob was standing on our vehicle looking out over the pan to see if there was anything interesting happening. Yep, he saw a CHEETAH walking our way down the edge of the pan in the long grass.... it was great to see, but once again, the long grass did not help in getting a good photo.
During the days we were entertained by the many Cape Ground SQUIRRELS who were very friendly. So much so, that we had squirrels sitting on us eating from our hands, (they are also very ‘amorous’ little creatures) The HORNBILLS once again were a constant favourite, snapping up any bugs they could find; but you had to watch out for your window wiper blades tho, they did like to pull on those a bit. Aside from these guys, we had the golden (white-tipped tail) and the red (black-tipped tail)mongoose, plus mother hen and her 4 chicks to keep us company.
Our second night in Kgalagadi and this time, there was no lion, but a BROWN HYENA who wandered into our camp. It was such a shock to look up and see him there looking back at me.!!
He could smell the dinner that Bob was cooking and wasvery interested. He came in at different angles and we had to keep telling him to go away. At one time, he came within5mts of the kitchen!! (our gazebo at home is 5 mts square, so we have a good idea how close that is). He circled us for about 2 hours that night, as we sat by the fire we saw him come back each time, but eventually he realised there was nothing for him to eat and was on his way.
On night 3, he only visited once very briefly, but night 4 was the best. He past by earlier than usual, was still bit of daylight... we told him he was too early and watched him walk off into the bushes again.... That night was a little different to the others. The bright moon had not come up yet and it was DARK. This put a entire new feel to the situation,a different level again.... so I made sure the fire was going strong and we set up another couple of lights so we could see around our immediate camp. (shame they put those darn toilets so far away,.. there ARE ‘some times’ when you just need a real loo). Well, as it happened, the moon did eventually come up and shine out bright, so we were able to turn off our lights and depend on the fire. At 10pm, in he walks, our brown Hyena. This time we were ready. Bob held the torch on him while I tried to take a few photos. The pics are not good, but... they are a damn good memory of our experiences with our night time friends.
Another pic that did not turn out well was of the LEOPARD spotted as he crossed edge of the pan... once again in the tall grass. We could see it was quite a small leopard and had something in it’s mouth, what I ‘think’ was a bird. I ran about 3 shots with the camera, but not good enough to show you.
Actually on our very first day I missed a shot completely. We had not even reached our campsite yet and we saw a cat flash across the road in front of us. It was SO quick.!! No time for the camera at all. It looked the body shape of a cheetah, but was so dark, we wondered if it wasn’t a leopard. That is what it was like in this park. During the day, you got a quick glimpse of 1 special thing each day, but then had the action happen at night.
Yes, this had been my personal life dream. To be able to sit in the African bush, totally alone, looking over the plains, and share my life with the wildlife in their domain. AWESOME.
At last I can say I have done it, I am thankful of my time there...and believe me when I say, I want to go back. It is a different world, and one WE would both love to share far more often.
After 4 days and nights of perfect weather and moonlight nights, we had to reluctantly say goodbye to Kgalagadi. Once again, it was back to thick sand, and this time we had passengers. Lucky we had an entire 600kms to travel, cause as we drove, it took us all of that and more into the next day, of catching the little bugs who had taken residence in every nook & crevice of our car the night before. Not just a few, but hundreds of the little buggers. We are currently still trying to get the last of them out of the camper.
We are now taking it easy in the town of Maun, trying to get internet signals and catch up on emails, websites and fix my laptop programs etc. This is actually the most frustrating time I have.
So, I will end here, it has been so much to tell and I know is very long. Next we are heading into Moremi, Okavango Delta then into Namibia. So til I get another good signal, I will say goodnight.
Categories: Botswana May 2014