I am making the most of the South African Lifestyle and hope with my blog to share some of the adventures my husband and I are having in our retirement. We live at the Southern Tip of Africa in the small coastal town of Struisbaai. Earl and I have a Gecko off-road caravan and we travel around South Africa frequently. We are bird and wild life enthusiasts so are often in game reserves.
What an awesome day we had today. There were more gemsbok, springbok and wildebeest about and jackals were going busily about their business.
We were on the road just after 5:30 and by quarter to six we had a lovely male lion at the Samevloeiing water hole. He was just lying there lazily set to sleep for the rest of the day.
This waterhole is fed by three boreholes drilled in 1913, 1984 and 1987 respectively. Samevloeiing means flow together – thus confluence.
More excitingly we found three lions right next to the road at Kij Kij Waterhole. They were finishing off a meal of springbok and we got some lovely shots.
Kij Kij was the first borehole driled in the Nossob River in 1913. The farm, Kij Kij was private property at the time. It means – big big or The Biggest.
Then all of a sudden they got up and marched off. All the spectators got into gear and followed them. We enjoyed them walking, play fighting and interacting for the next 20 minutes. It was great fun.
There was very little going on for a while but then we heard a jackal howling. Stop, I said, There’s a reason why he’s making a fuss – there’s a predator nearby! We looked all around and couldn’t see anything. The jackal was looking up toward a hill and Earl followed his gaze and then said – It’s an African Wild Cat. He snapped a photo and then pointed it out to us.
Wow! It was as clear as anything through our binoculars. Another car was wondering what we were looking at and was amazed when we went up next to them and told them where to look. It was an awesome sighting!
Those were the two highlights of the day. We also enjoyed the birds tortoises and ground squirrels and a cute little mouse.
It’s all about being in the bush and experiencing the colours of the Kalahari, the changes in weather, the huge sky and the awesomeness of being away from normal town life!
Moving Day today! We were up by 5 and on the road by 6:25. The Mools made stops at all the waterholes while The Earl and I went on as quickly as possible with the caravan. As most of the waterholes don’t require negotiating, we managed to get some good sightings along the way. There were three lions at the waterhole on Kaspersdraai. There were quite a few cars so we pulled in and quickly took photos before moving on so as not to block the view for everyone else.
Kasper Sanderson had a residence here during the tsamma melon season. He also dug a well here. Kaspersdraai means Kasper’s Turn.
An hour later we had another lion sighting of 2 males and a female at Kameelsleep waterhole. A sad meaning to this name – kameel(perd) is a giraffe sleep means drag. It was here that the last migrating giraffe was shot by the Sandersons and dragged by donkeys to neighbouring Bechuanaland. Giraffe have now been reintroduced to The Kgalagadi.
We had a brief pit stop at Dikbaardkolk picnic site. Dikbaard means bushy beard and kolk means pool. Dikbaard is a colloquial term for lion. So it means Lion Pool.
Our next stop was for for breakfast at Melkvlei which is a big un-fenced site with tables and benches on both sides of the road. “Which spot do you want?” asked the Earl – I picked one on the opposite side of the road to the toilets. “Are you sure?” He asked. “Yes!” I said and when he pulled in what should I see in the tree but a Spotted Eagle-Owl! “This is definitely the right spot,” I said! A little later I noticed there was a juvenile on a branch and the mom was keeping a careful eye on it.
Melk means milk vlei means small depression which collects water in the rainy season. It is so named because of the white chalk banks of the river. We have indeed seen this picnic site flooded after heavy rains.
We arrived at Twee Rivieren at half past 11 and set up quickly. The Mools arrived two hours later. We went out again at 4 o’clock and had another lion sighting at leeudril. Leeu means lion dril means shiver. So it means here a man’s legs shook with fear when he encountered a lion on the other side of the dune!
We also saw springbok, tortoise, birds, ground squirrels and suricates but no cheetah and no leopard!
Rooikop to Marie se Gat to Kaspersdraai and back
Another early start today and out the gate by 06:06. The Earl complained that we were late! We should have been out by 5:30 – now we’ll miss the lions and cheetahs. But all was not lost. Why are these cars parked at the water hole looking at nothing – he said. We turned in and there they were!
We watched them drink and play and then walk off together. What an awesome sighting – they spotted a springbok and went into hunting mode. But it was far off and gone before they could give chase. We watched them till they melted into the veld. A few minutes earlier or later and we would have missed them
We continued to Marie se gat. Marie was married to one of the men responsible for drilling the boreholes. His name was Henry Brink. Imagine being Marie – living like a squatter in the wilds of Africa. Life was tough but when the man on whom you depend fails to perform his duties and no money is coming in, you turn to desperate measures. Henry began to drink excessively and his job became the last thing he paid attention to so Marie simply drilled the borehole herself so that they could survive! Hooray for pioneering women like Marie!
At her famous Gat (bore hole) we watched quelea and Cape Sparrow
We continued to Kaspersdraai waterhole where clouds of quelea, finches and Namaquadove were being pursued by a lanner. Then we made our way back spotting a Martial Eagle on the way
Half way between Kaspers and Marie’s we saw a car stopped and asked the Australians within what they were looking at. “A sleeping cheetah – hasn’t moved for half an hour – we may give up and go back for breakfast!” We found a suitable spot – saw the cheetah lift her head and flick her tail and stayed to see if she did anything more while we had a cup of coffee. She didn’t stir – but it was still a lovely sighting as thus far no other cheetahs had made an appearance!
Back home I did some washing while The Earl cooked brekkie and then we watched the birds and mongooses round the camp.
Afternoon drive – Nossob to Cubitje Quap and Kwang and back
On the way we found a spotted eagle-owl in a tree
At Kwang Water Hole we found lion!
There were some vultures there too.
We left the creatures in peace and drove on for a while. When we came back they were more active.
On our return drive we found that there were two owls in the tree.
The mornings are just cool enough to pack up in comfort. The Earl and I were off by quarter to seven. The Mools followed a little later as they still had to fuel. The plan was to meet at Kamqua for breakfast.
The sightings were slow all day today but The Earl and I did see sleeping lions and the Mools got them awake!
We arrived at Kamqua and opened up the caravan kitchen to prepare breakfast. Earl said – I’ll just prepare everything and start the cooking when the Mools arrive. Well he’d just completed the prep when they arrived. It was quarter past ten. Perfect timing.
The drive to Nossob from Mata Mata is over 100 km. It was a slow day as far as sightings were concerned. Our most interesting sighting was a little jackal at a waterhole we could see from the road.
Below are some photos of animals and birds we did see.
It was 43 degrees when we arrived at Nossob at around 1 pm. Nossob means blackwater, black lung – soft and even flow. The northern reaches of the river are wide and flat making it difficult to see where the actual course runs.
We parked the caravan and pushed up the roof but left the canopy till later. I washed up the breakfast things in the camp kitchen and washed out all my dish towels. Then I sat in the air conditioned caravan and edited photographs while the Earl napped.
When the Mools arrived we finished setting up and then all went to the pool for a swim. I was delighted to get a good photo of a violet cheeked waxbill at the gate.
18 November 2018
Nossob to Polentswa and back
We made an early start this morning, getting our exit permit at 20 to 6. The first water hole we stopped at was Cubitje Quap. The meaning of this name is Aardvark Burrow but I’ve never seen any aardvarks there!
This is a good spot to watch birds of prey trying to catch birds. There were hundreds of doves, quelea and finches in the trees. They swarmed down in twittering clouds to drink at the waterhole. At the approach of the prey-bird they explode into the air and back into the trees.
There are several waterholes along the corrugated way to Polentswa. We stopped at Kwang where the water is of good quality. The meaning of Kwang is unknown but it is a site where Piet de Villiers, the Inspector of Lands, camped regularly. He was instrumental in having the area declared a national park. We had rewarding sightings of secretary birds as well as a red-necked falcon that landed on the ground near the waterhole. This bird is easy to confuse with the lanner. The diagnostic feature is that its whole crown is red and the feathered part of the legs are striped, not plain.
At Polentswa we sat having our breakfast while observing wildebeest and birds at the waterhole. Polentswa means ‘losing the way, or rogue river.
On our return we saw vultures at some of the waterholes the last being Bedinkt which means sour grass.
It is also interesting to pay attention to the small creatures of the park. Aren’t these ground agamas fascinating. Although they are called ground agama, they do like to hang about in thorn trees. The male’s head turns blue in the breeding season.
It’s Lauren’s birthday today – she turns 47! Where did the time go?
We left camp at 05:30 but as we know our daughter rises early for school we sent her a message promising to phone in the evening when she’d have time to chat.
We drove all the way to Twee Rivieren and back today. The Earl needed to have a good phone and internet connection in order to get hold of Ford in Upington to arrange for a new back windscreen. The result was that all was organised for 23 November when we would be making our way back home. So we could relax and enjoy the rest of our holiday.
It took the whole day to drive there and back, of course with many stops to view game.
The first fun thing we saw were springbok pronking just for the fun of it. They looked like they were just doing their morning exercise and thoroughly enjoying being alive. Perhaps they were celebrating missing the lions claws last night!
We had seen flying bateleurs but today we saw two perched at the top of a tree.
There were also a number of vultures around.
Just past Viertiende Boorgat (Fourteenth Bore Hole) at 7 in the morning we found a den of Cape Foxes. How cute to observe the babies learning to dig and find their own food.
At Dertiende Boorgat (Thirteenth Bore Hole) we watched the little quelea,sparrows, finches and doves swarm down to the water and up again into the trees while a lanner falcon flew over. They are expert bird catchers but didn’t try their luck this morning.
We stopped at Kamqua Picnic site at quarter to ten and had a cereal and boiled egg breakfast.
Each waterhole we stopped at had one or two creatures of interest but not like the herds and herds we saw in Etosha.
Just before Montrose we oohed over a brand new baby springbok suckling his mother.
At Montrose a jackal took a drink and a little further on another was scavenging on a kill left by cheetahs we were told.
We almost missed an immature martial eagle on a log on the ground. Pat called – Ooohh what was that? The Earl screeched to a halt and rapidly reversed. He was quite content to let us stare at him and take some photos.
It was midday when we got to Twee Rivieren. There is a restaurant there but it was closed. However there was a small patio with a kiosk that sold snacks and drinks so we sat there while The Earl tried to sort out the windscreen. We also did some shopping at the park shop.
After a snack and ice cream we made our way back to Mata Mata. As we drew up to Leeudril we spotted two Fords.
What luck – 9 lions were lazing in the shade. They were all awake but sluggish and about to nap. Their tummies were really very full.
The rest of the afternoon produced some birding and a few of the usual animals but no cheetah nor a leopard!
We got back to camp after 6 pm and after some cold drinks went to the pool for a refreshing swim. Then I cooked savoury mince and rice for dinner. Dessert was our favourite – Amarula and condensed milk shooters.
Grahamstown Training College closed in 1975 but its spirit lives on. It was the only college in South Africa that was begun by the head of a religious order and Mother Cecile made sure that although a state curriculum would be followed and salaries would be paid by the Department of Education, the buildings would be owned by the Church and the sisters of the Community of The Resurrection would be involved in teaching and taking care of the students where possible. There was a strong Christian Ethos at the college and all denominations were catered for. It was a happy place where we learned to work hard and play hard. There were very few day girls so a great camaraderie existed among the students who lived together in four houses, Lincoln, Bangor, Canterbury and Winchester. Although we spent only a short time of our lives there, they were important years that shaped us for the future.
The buildings still stand and now belong to Rhodes University. Two of the houses, Canterbury and Winchester are still used as residences today. Lincoln House is used by the Faculty of Law, the college block by The Faculty of Education and Bangor House by The Faculty of Environmental Science.
On the weekend of Friday 30 November to Sunday 2 December the following Old Girls, plus a few others who popped into some of the functions, attended a reunion and celebrated Founder’s Day in the St Mary and All Angels Chapel.
1. Margie Gordon Antrobus – Winchester – 1966-1968.
Many others would have loved to have been with us but for various reasons were unable to make it. Astrid Corvett was very sorry to miss it but she finds it very difficult to travel these days. She wrote to wish us a happy reunion :-
My Dear College Friends
Thank you for letting me be a small part of your reunion. I hope you have all enjoyed the newsletters and the photo albums we compiled which thanks to Liz and Sister Carol are now in The Cory Library. It was a real treat to compile them. Laurie introduced the magic of photos and colour and Sister Carol has been wonderful in getting them in the right place.
I have been reading old newsletters when Old Girls were able to take their children – very small – to the reunions and picnics and sports matches and dances were arranged. Now we would be taking grandchildren and great-grandchildren!
I had polio after my first year and the sisters were landed with me with a thumb that stuck out backwards and were very good about caring for me as they could not put me on a train for three days with no one to meet me. My mother had not replied to their letter. What a treat it was to be Senior Anglican in my Third Year.
Sister Nonnie/Virginia reluctantly allowed me to take over the newsletter when it became too difficult for her. Each of our three sons helped get them good to read as the news poured in.
It is sad that we no longer have a bus from the airport to Grahamstown but we are with you in spirit and look forward to news and photographs.
Have a wonderful time together
With love from
Laurie and Astrid Gorvett
In the past the attendees of the College Reunions have stayed in Winchester and/or Canterbury but because fewer attended this year, it was not worthwhile for Rhodes to keep on staff to look after us so we all found our own accommodation in town.
It was with a great deal of excitement and anticipation that Heather Howell (1957 to 1959) and I (1971 to 1973) boarded a plane to Port Elizabeth. We were on the first leg of our trip back to our student days! It’s another hour and half drive from PE airport to Grahamstown and how we enjoyed that drive in our nippy, hired Nissen.
The weekend started with a welcome dinner at Red Cafe in High Street.
It was a lovely first evening catching up with friends both from our time and others we’d made friends with at previous reunions.
On Saturday morning we met on Lincoln Lawn for photographs.
Then there were the fun photos. Some of the Old Girls decided to hug a tree.
I dared Jenny and Barbie to go into the bell tower and ring the Chapel bell – a job that they each had to do early in the morning to call the students to prayer.
The next bit of fun was going along to Cory Library where there was an exhibition of Training College photo albums and memorabilia.
Before going to lunch at The Mad Hatters Coffee Shop we all filed into Chapel to practice singing the Te Deum for our service the following day.
The foundation stone for the building of The Chapel of St Mary and All the Angels was laid on 2 June 1915 and the completed building was consecrated on 14 October 1916. Sister Margaret who was a trained artist painted the fresco in the apse between 1924 and 1929 and she used students as her models.
Thanks to Marcus Mostert for providing the music and patiently coaching the croaky old ladies though their singing. What an awesome and patient young man!
At lunch time, The Mad Hatter’s Coffee Shop opened its doors and welcomed us with a lovely message on their chalk board.
We enjoyed quiche and coffee and once again had a tremendous time catching up with old friends.
It is 124 years since The Grahamstown Training College first opened it’s doors to train teachers and we have never forgotten that it all started with Mother Cecile who also started the Community of The Resurrection. Today the community has just a few sisters faithfully working in Grahamstown. Some of our Old Girls had tea with them on Saturday afternoon. One of our oldest members, Beth Denton, who is in her nineties, managed to make it to this function. Thanks to Barbie Bennett and Shann de Smidt for the photographs.
On Saturday evening we all donned our glad rags to enjoy our Gala Dinner. Reverend Eric Kelly spoke to us about his book on the History of The Training College – “Faithful to the Vision” of which most of us are now proud owners.
After dinner old girls from the fifties. sixties and seventies shared their memories of college life.
Heather Howell on GTC in the 50s.
“When unexpectedly asked to speak on “GTC in the 50’s” I thought it appropriate to use the memories of Janet (Louw) Welsh who died in 2010. “
Extracts from an address given by Janet at St Cyprians Cathedral, Kimberley
20 February 2004. (The historic facts have been omitted.)
I arrived at GTC in Jan 1954 – a bit apprehensive,never having been to boarding school, and yet excited as this was the beginning of a new phase of my life. I was duly installed in my cubicle on the second floor of Canterbury House which had been built onto the college block in 1907 and was the first of the Houses for boarding students. The whole floor had obviously been one large dormitory which was now divided by partitions into cubicles. The partitions reached neither the floor nor the ceilings. Each “cube”contained a single bed, a chest of drawers, a wash-stand with jug and basin and a curtain behind the door which served as a wardrobe. There was barely space to open the drawers and with arms outstretched one could touch both sides of the “cube”. There were 3 bathrooms with incredibly small baths and a red line painted to show the maximum amount of water allowed. There were 2 separate loos. The modern miss would probably have turned tail and run! In retrospect they were 2 very happy years in which we covered a vast amount of work, had lots of fun and formed friendships which still exist 50 years later.
Rules we had aplenty, and some students found them very tiresome and too much like the boarding schools from which they had so recently been liberated. There was so much work that we didn’t really have much time for gallivanting. In summer we rose early and sleepily dived into the (often) pea green swimming pool to train for the Bronze Medal life saving certificate which we all had to do and some of us were crazy enough to go on to do the Silver Medal in our second year as this ensured a good symbol for Gym at the end of the year! In winter we rose early to play netball and when it was too dark to do that, we had a literature lecture before breakfast so that we had time for netball when it was light! It was a scramble to make beds, tidy “cube”and dash off to breakfast at the correct time. Breakfast and dinner in the evening were “formal” meals, so if one was late and arrived after grace had been said, one walked the length of the hall,up onto the stage to the Sister in charge and apologised. We then went to Chapel. Lectures began at 9:00 with breaks for tea and lunch and finished at 3:30. Sport began at 4 o’clock. Most evenings, after dinner we attended chapel – especially the Anglicans – other denominations had some evenings off. We then went to“study” and had to be in the college block working until 9 o’clock, after which we returned to our residences for coffee and biscuits…. known as “Table Mountain biscuits” because it was said that during the making the raisins had been thrown into the dough from the top of the mountain and very few had hit the target. The coffee had stood on the slow combustion stove in the basement since the early afternoon, so it contained “whales” ……. our term for the floating bits of skin. “Lights out” was at 10 p.m. On Saturday mornings we had to be in the College block until 12 noon. We could only go to town for essential shopping – nobody ever defined “essential”!!
Each hostel had a Sister in charge plus a Matron. We had tiny Sister Ethelwyn, of indeterminable age and false teeth that didn’t fit so clacked when she spoke,but she was very sweet and kind. We called her “The Mighty Mouse”. However,our Matron was another story…… a real tartar…… and heaven help you if she took a dislike to you for some real or imagined transgression. During my second year we had Sister Joyce,who seldom spoke and frequently sat on the lawn trimming the edge with nail scissors! The academic staff was headed by Sister Truda, a rather aloof woman, and a deputy-principal Sister Madeleine,an ethereal lady who didn’t walk but glided and she was very approachable. She had a room in Canterbury at the top of the stairs on our floor. She succeeded in frightening the wits out of one of my friends when she glided, fully robed in a white night dress and cap, from the bathroom in near darkness where she had been bathing by candlelight. Most of the lecturers were lay people and most were very good.
Needless to say, some were rather eccentric and some a bit weird. The gym mistress was a real character …. a sergeant-major. When you stood teetering on the edge of the pool and she yelled from the opposite side “JUMP!” you jumped.
For gym and sport, we wore 4 gore skirts (you know how straight the hems hang?) in a dark blue, just above our knees, with shapeless lighter blue shirts, white socks & black tackies. So as not to tempt the gardeners we wore longer ordinary “over skirts”to lectures!! What an assortment of colours, shapes & designs these were. In winter we wore long navy socks with this garb. Each term each student was assigned a gym class at one of the local schools, so we set off laden with all sorts of apparatus – balls, tins, beanbags, a bat or two, ropes & hoops, for your appointed school dressed as above. Oh! … and lesson notes. If the school was distant you went by bike,yours or a borrowed one. If your gym class was at the Convent you did not include any exercise which would expose the little girls’ panties! At least we wore white for tennis matches. Tradition had it that our 1sttennis team would play against St Paul’s (College of the Transfiguration). When the match was at College, we had chocolate cake for tea & for the return match they had cucumber sandwiches to offer.
In the summer terms, one was allowed out on 5 ”week nights” and in winter 3 per term,some of which had to be used for “cultural activities”. We had to be in by 11 p.m. St Paul’s College used to occasionally have a “Balloon debate” and some of us went to this cultural activity. I can’t remember what a balloon debate was. Sometimes we babysat for priests’ families. That meant you usually got a nice tea. We could also go out on Saturday evenings until 11…… not to restaurants, not that many of us could ever afford to do that and on Sunday evenings we went to “Church & Social” until 10pm. Most denominations had a young peoples’ gathering after evening worship but that didn’t mean that all who signed out for this went there. We had to sign out whenever we left College grounds and sign in on return. Hotels were out of bounds unless accompanied by your parents. First Years were allowed to attend 3 dances and 2nd Years 5. One of these had to be your own house dance and in your final year the leaving students dance. What scheming went on to get partners! If one girl in your group knew a student at Rhodes, the poor fellow would be asked to get the required number of blind dates for her friends. Once he had them there was the matching up of tall and short — all by telephone. When you were called to the door, you hadn’t a clue who would find waiting for you and most of your friends, who were still waiting for their dates, were hanging out of the windows to see who you had got. Some were fine, and some were disasters. Luckily, it was not far to get home if it was a College dance and you had to be in by 12:15!!!
Sadly, college closed at the end of 1975.
Having been the “voice” for Janet’s memories, I would just like to add that in those days one became a qualified teacher after 2 years and as I did a 3rd year in IST (Infant School Teaching), I was allowed to cast off most of those rules. They did not apply to qualified teachers! We still signed out and had to be back by the time the person at the door went off duty and I think hotels were off limits to 3rd years too.
I arrived at GTC 3 years after Janet but during my first 2 years conditions were very much the same except that we had gym lessons before breakfast and not netball, so it was less complicated by the lack of day light as we simply switched the lights on in the gym. We had an exam every Saturday morning as by then they had introduced a system of “continuous evaluation” ….. which helped me lose my fear of exams.
We did, however, have the same rules for Formal Meals and I once attempted to avoid the apology for my tardiness by crawling to my table on all fours,but the excited voices and the swiveling heads plotted my progress to such an extent that I was obliged to stand up and walk shame-facedly to “top table”.
Thank you to Heather for sharing Janet’s and her own memories.
Janet (Scorer) Rice had us in stitches reminiscing about her and her friends’ antics in the sixties and Helen (Pnematicatos) Fenwick spoke about how grateful she was to have made it to college at all.
Thanks to Barbie Bennett for creating such beautiful table decorations and Gwynne Nieuwoudt for lending her stunning candelabras.
On Sunday the weekend ended with a memorable Founder’s Day Service led by our own Jenny (Gowar)Mitchell. Once again she gave an inspirational sermon using kitchen spoons as an object lesson!
Thank you Margie Antrobus for all you did to see that the Chapel was ready for our use and that the service went smoothly.
There was a beautiful Jacaranda Tree outside Canterbury House but it had to be felled when Rhodes did renovations to the building. The girls were very upset about this so their Warden, Coral Waite, arranged for a branch to be cured and then carved into a candle stick. Ms Waite later married and became Mrs Surtees. When she and her new husband left Grahamstown, they donated the candle to the Presbyterian Church. Every time The Old Girls have a reunion it is lent to them for the Founder’s Day Service and it is lit in remembrance of all deceased Sisters and Old Girls. It has become a tradition for the youngest “Old Girl” to carry it out at the end of the service.
During the service some of our Old Girls read prayers and the Gospel Reading
After Chapel we said our final goodbyes and enjoyed a delicious Tea on the lawns outside the chapel and in front of Lincoln.
What an awesome weekend it was! Heather and I spent an extra night at our lodgings as did Janet, Jenny and Pam and we all met for dinner at Gino’s on Sunday night. Once again we behaved and laughed like the students we used to be before returning to serious business of being adults the following day!
Thank you Janet, Jenny and Pam for your brilliant organisation of this reunion. Thanks too, to Barbie, Margie, Gwynne, Pam Gush, Jenny Mitchell and others who helped to make this such a successful event.
We do not want these reunions to end. If you are reading this and wishing you’d been there, please plan to join us in two years time – it might be at a different time of year and The Fab Four – Janet, Jenny, Pam and Liz will let you know in good time.
We made a late start this morning. Earl managed to get some plastic sheeting from one of the staff at the park shop and he and Tony did a good job of sorting out the lack of a back window.
We had an excellent “Earlie” breakfast of scrambled eggs, tomato, bacon and banana and then set off for a game drive at half past nine.
Peter Derichs had produced a series of guides to various game reserves in South Africa called Peter’s Guides. The snippets of information I have given on the names and places in the Kgalagadi come from such a reference – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – by Peter Derichs”
Kgalagadi means ‘salt pans’. It is part of a 89000 square kilometers sand field which has a red colour caused by a thin layer of iron oxide on the sand grains.
The park has two rivers – the Nossob and the Aub which are mainly dry and only flow when there are heavy rains. There are many years between flooding and the average annual rainfall is 200 mm. To meet the water needs of the animals, over 86 water points have been provided. These were previously powered by windmills but now most are solar powered.
Today we followed the Auob riverbed road and checked out each of the waterholes until we reached the Kamqua picnic site where we had lunch and then drove back again.
The Aub River is part of an ancient drainage system and runs in a southerly direction until it joins the Nossob River near Twee Rivieren Camp. There are 18 water points in the river.
The quality of the water at Craig Lockhart bore hole is good. Craig means rock and Lockhart is a person’s name. It is derived from the French word Loche meaning a fresh water fish. It is assumed that Lockhart was a name given to a fresh water fisherman.
Craig Lockhart is a good place to spot birds. We spotted a black-breasted snake eagle. He did not seem to want to pose for his portrait but I managed to get a reasonable shot.
The Gemsbok were enjoying a drink until theu saw the bullies arrive.
Dertiende en Viertiende Boorgat (thirteenth and fourteenth bore hole) were originally known as Kleinskrij and Grootskrij – small and big diarrhoea. This is because when a surveyor named Jackson camped there his oxen ate tsamma melon and drank the poor quality water which gave them diarrhoea!
Kamqua like all the picnic sites in the park is not fenced so one must be on the lookout for wild animals when getting out of the car. Fortunately I have never seen any animals passing through while I’ve been there but cheetah are often in the vicinity. Kamqua means green pothole.
Sadly we had to leave Etosa National Park today. It has been the most awesome visit ever and we are full of all the amazing sightings we have had in the 10 days we’ve been here. Today we headed to Windhoek and once again checked into AnJo Villa. We had a long afternoon’s rest and then went to do some shopping before having dinner at Jo’s Beer house.
14 November – Mata Mata
We had an early breakfast at AnJo’s and were fueled and on the road by 7:45. It was a 6 hour drive to Mata Mata border post and we only stopped for fuel and then a brief snack break on the side of the road.
The last 250 km was on a gravel road. Our Everest has new tyres with tread meant for rough roads and we were going well on the excellent road. A few stones were kicked up by the tyres and I hoped that the front windscreen would not get any nicks. Suddenly we heard a loud bang –like a rifle shot.
What was that – I yelled
In a dead calm voice the Earl replied, “The back windscreen just shattered. A stone must have thrown, bounced off the caravan and smashed it.”
He didn’t even stop, saying that there was nothing we could do till we got to Mata Mata.
It was to say the least a little nerve wracking as the glass kept caving into the back of the car and stones flew in and landed right up front! It happened at 2 pm and we arrived at the border post at 3. We were checked through by the Namibian Border Control and then just had the car checked by officials on the SA side at Mata Mata.
We set up camp and then dealt with the shattered glass. It was a mission to get all the glass cleared away. We did not put up the sides of our canopy so Earl used one of them to cover the hole where the windscreen was for the night Pat and I spent a short time in the hide overlooking the waterhole and saw some jackal, surricates, ground squirrel and birds.
Then we went to prepare supper. Just as we started there was a stir and Earl went to investigate. Just three lions, he reported back, so we dashed for cameras and binoculars, left everything and dashed to the fence. What an amazing start to our Kgalalagadi visit.
Today we first went to the waterhole then had breakfast in camp. We were out by 8:15 and had a lovely morning.
First of all our birding was most rewarding
Then we went past Gemsbok vlakte and on to Olifantsbad.
There is a picnic spot and long-drop near Olifantsbad and I wanted to have a pit stop there before going to the waterhole but The Earl wanted to check it out first. If nothing is there he tends to resist waiting a while before leaving. I wanted to have coffee and a snack in the car at the waterhole, giving us time to sit and wait for the creatures to arrive!
I was quite cross that he wouldn’t listen to me – – – but not for long. As soon as we came in sight of the water hole I spotted them – A whole tribe of ellies drinking. And that’s not all – there was a variety of other game too. It was awesome.
We spent over an hour watching and photographing.
Then we went past Gemsbokvlakte again and enjoyed another half hour watching all the plains animals drinking.
A mom and dad ostrich were standing in the sun with wings spread to shade their chicks – It was so sweet.
Today was overcast and we had a few drops of rain but the wind died down. We made our way to Sprookwoud some way away but did not have very good sightings. The animals are clearly closer to the camp.
We stopped at a picnic site for breakfast and found dozens of thirsty sociable weavers. We poured water into the empty bird bath and they stormed it with gusto. A bul bul tried to join them but they would have none of it. Then a little goshawk swooped on them and they scattered in fright. Suddenly I heard a splat and couldn’t see through my right eye! I removed my glasses and found that a frightened bird had crapped on them!
thought it was very funny!
Back at camp we went to the Waterhole and saw a lovely collection of game.
We went out again in the afternoon but saw very little.