Today is my birthday and just being here in the bush is the best gift I could ask for. However, I make a short list of what I would like to see today and at the top is Cheetah! The Kgalagadi usually shows us wonderful cheetah sightings but this time we’ve seen only a single sleepy one under a tree! I really want the Mools to see them at their glorious best. Pat even put in a request when saying Grace last night. Will her prayer receive a positive answer???
The Mools greet me with a big happy birthday and a gift of a new Kgalagadi Map Book! – It will be much treasured!
First up and always amazing to see is The Martial Eagle – then a den of the cutest Cape Foxes.
Then we watch two springbok locking horns in a friendly battle of strength
We find the wild cat at the same spot as yesterday and point her out to others who stop to ask what we’re staring at. We manage to get good shots of her and the kitten
There are no lion at Kij Kij today but we stop for coffee and to watch the sandgrouse, sparrows, quelea and finches flying from trees to water hole – always fascinating.
From there we drive to Melkvlei where The Earl cooks us a delicious birthday breakfast on the Skottel.
After breakfast we take the Dune Road.
Once on the Mata Mata Road we stop to see birds and animals. We find Ostriches. The babies are having a delightful sand bath.
Then it all happens. Between Rooibrak and Kamqua bore holes, lying lazily under a tree we find two young cheetah! My birthday wish comes true! Patricia’s prayer is answered.
We thoroughly enjoy a birthday treat of note! The cheetah interact with each other then they spot a springbok and get up and go for the chase – but they’re spotted and lose their lunch. We think they’ll go off somewhere else now –but no, they return to the same tree, giving us more wonderful views of their beautiful selves. I am in heaven!
There are only two other cars and we have nobody blocking our view – just awesome.
It’s a long way back to Twee Rivieren and we’re on a high all the way home. We stop to enjoy other creatures but the Cheetah are definitely the highlight. A wonderful way to end an amazing month’s trip! Tomorrow we start making our way home!
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.
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.
Today was ‘pack up and go’ and ‘set up and rest’ day. I was up at quarter to six, had a shower and started putting things in their correct places in preparation for towing the caravan. The Earl cooked us scrambled eggs and by the time Pat and I had tidied the dishes he’d lowered the roof, pulled up the stand and put the electrical connections away. We soon had the canopy dismantled and rolled up and Pat and Tony had their tent done too. So at 8:15 we departed for Okaukeujo. We took the direct route but The Mools took a slow drive stopping at waterholes.
We did pop into Rietfontein as it was easy to maneuver the caravan there. There were vultures on the giraffe that the mating couple had killed yesterday.
We had a few other interesting sightings along the way but there were long stretches of not very much. When we did see animals there were gatherings of hundreds of mixed species.
We saw a big male lion in the distance – he was walking toward a pan where there were herds of herbivores and they were clearly aware of him.
We were excited to find some interesting birds on the way.
We arrived at Okaukeujo at 10:15.
I went to check in and was told I could not do so before 11. The conversation went like this.
“No check in until 11.”
Now I understand this for chalet accommodation – they need to clean the room, make sure it’s ready for the next occupants – but for camping? Well, maybe if the site has been left in a mess – but most campers are responsible and don’t litter!
“Really? For camping?”
I put on a desperate expression – “But we’re towing a caravan – can’t we just park it and check in later?”
She looked put out and said I could park it outside reception.
“There is no caravan parking available,” said I. “My hubs is looking for a place as we speak. Please just let us park and we’ll check in later.”
She didn’t look happy but she gave in and agreed. I thanked her profusely – got the site number and off we went to set up. When we saw some of the tiny sites we were worried that the one assigned to us would have no shade and be too small for our Gecko Off Road Caravan plus the Mools’ tent but were pleasantly surprised when we got to Number 23- It was in excellent nick and had a lovely shady tree which hosted the sociable weavers’ nests. Other birds liked the tree too and we saw white-bellied sunbirds, masked weavers and scarlet chested sunbird.
It was hot! We set up quickly and went to check in properly at 11:15. Then we popped into the shop for bitterly cold sparkling water and ice cream!
The Earl then had a nap while I edited photos and did my diary.
The Mools arrived an hour or so after us, set up and had some lunch.
We then we all set off for a drive leaving around 4:30 pm. The trip up had yielded very little so we weren’t expecting too much. All we hoped for were some interesting birds.
Well we were in for a surprise – We saw some cars staring across the veld toward the mopane trees. On the tree line I spotted the first lion. Then another and still two more! We followed them for awhile.
“They’re probably heading to Gemsbok Vlakte Water Hole,” said The Earl. It was quite a distance for them to walk so we left them and carried on to another waterhole – Olifants Bad. On arriving there we saw a few cars watching the guinea-fowl and other birds making quite a commotion. We saw nothing until a ‘jeep-jockey’ called – “Just drive around those cars and look this way,” he said, “There’s a leopard drinking at the edge of the pond.” So we did but it took a while to spot the well camouflaged creature. We watched her drink for a second and then she was up.
She turned around and headed off through the mopani trees. She was escorted by a tribe of Praise Singers in the form of admiring guinea-fowl! They kept pace with her and we guessed that so long as they could see her, they were safe!
We followed the other cars who wanted to see her emerge onto the road on the other side of the trees. They were waiting for her and when she emerged everyone started reversing. We ended up being in the best spot and got some stunning shots of her before she disappeared though the tress on the other side of the road.
Wow! How trilled we were to see this creature so seldom seen in Etosha! We were on a high as we travelled toward Gemsbok Vlakte. There was nobody home when we arrived and no sign of the lions. Then we saw and heard a jackal howling. “That means the lions are nearby,” I said. We drove along the road a little while but quickly turned around when we saw the four rulers of the jungle marching determinedly across the veld toward the waterhole!
It was awesome to observe them slaking their thirst. The skies were darkening and a storm was brewing.
There was thunder and lightening. It was time to return to camp before the gate was closed. Suddenly the wind picked up and caused a dust storm and visibility was so poor The Earl could scarcely see the road! Fortunately it cleared and just before arriving home we spotted a rhino.
At Camp we were just in time to secure all of the canopy and tent poles. Many of the over-lander tents were blown over and campers were scurrying about to secure them.
We decided that making fire was going to be a problem so we bit the bullet and dug deep into our pockets to pay for an expensive meal at the restaurant! It was worth it though and a wonderful way to celebrate our lovely sightings.
I only woke up at quarter to six this morning and hopped up to go to the showers. Our little camp was still very quiet when I returned although The Earl had risen and gone to the ablutions too. I called to Pat who sleepily replied that she was awake but not dressed! I put on the kettle and soon we were all enjoying coffee and rusks.
We decided not to go to the waterhole this morning. I thought this to be a bad move as I was sure we’d see more there than on a game drive – but I was proved wrong! Today we had the most awesome day as my photos will demonstrate
several waterholes and each one had something special to amuse us.
Of course we stopped for birds along the way. Our national bird the blue crane and national animal, the springbok appeared in the same frame!
We also saw Norther Black korhaan for the first time this trip. A major tick was the red breasted swallow, which The Earl spotted.
Imagine our delight when we pulled into our breakfast stop – Springfontein Waterhole and saw a honeymoon couple right out in the open. When lions are in love they spend all day together and mate ever 10 to 15 minutes! We spent over an hour with these two love lions while enjoying our breakfast and coffee.
While watching herds and herds of zebra and other grazers at Salvador I spotted a huge male lion making his way toward the smorgasbord. As they became aware of his approach the animals stood to attention and only relaxed marginally when he flopped down under a shady tree.
On our way back to camp we came across cheetah! Cheetah are not seen very often in Etosha so we were thrilled to see three on a kill. They were behind a thorn bush so photography was tricky.
After supper we sat at the waterhole for an hour or two. Rhino and elephant came down to drink. No flash photography is allowed from the hide but I got one or two of the rhino before it became too dark.
I was up by five thirty this morning. I made coffee and woke everyone at quarter to six. By 6:15 we were all at the waterhole and spent an hour or so there. It was awesome watching the birds and then the animals come down in turns to drink.
First we watched black-faced impala and guinea fowl drinking in the early light
then a marabou stork flew in, landing like a Boeing into the shallows.
A little later kudu arrived
Lots of little birds were flitting about too.
The Earl cooked breakfast and then we went for a drive just after 9.
We were delighted to see herds and herds of plains animals The zebra population is certainly in no danger of extinction in the Etosha National Park!
Plenty of zebra
This baby tried to hid behind Mommy
Double Banded Sand-grouse came down to drink too.
A springbok and kori bustard barely greeted each other as they passed by each other.
We came across a rhino without a horn – removed to prevent poaching? I don’t like that idea.
We saw these boys at a distance and then they came closer and closer. They were on their way to a waterhole.
We made it a short day today and returned to camp at 14:30. Pat and I did some laundry and we all had a swim in the pool.
After dinner we went to the waterhole. Earl decided not to come. Pat and I stayed from 8:30 to 10:30 but Tony left after he’d seen enough rhino standing perfectly still to last a lifetime! Pat and I were determined to see elephant and two large males appeared as soon as Tony left! The rhino made a hasty retreat at their approach and hung in the shadows until they left.
During our vigil hyenas came and went and we counted 10 altogether. There were also a total of 10 rhino coming and going during the evening. Lovely to see that these endangered creatures have escaped the poachers’ guns.
I booked three nights in each camp so that we have two full days to enjoy each one. So today would be treated as a pack up and set up day. We got up at 6:00 had a leisurely breakfast then packed up camp. By 8:30 we were on the road, The Earl and I ahead as The Mools wanted to visit the Fort Shop before they left. Because we tow a caravan we did not do any detours to waterholes. In spite of this the main route of 70 km directly to Halali produced some lovely sightings
The dry arid regions are popular with secretary birds and we were thrilled to find two today.
We continued to stop for the odd jackal and giraffe but were not expecting anything to exciting.
Then half way to Halali we saw two cars stopped on the side of the road. “Probably rhino,” I said to The Earl but as we drew nearer I spotted her in the shade of a bush just a stone’s throw from the road
– A female lion feasting on what we think was the remains of a giraffe kill. There were two uninvited guests whom she could easily have chased off but she generously allowed them to chew on a bone or two.
“There must be others,” I said, scanning the area with my binoculars.
“I looked,” said The Earl – “Nobody else here”
“I think I see them under that tree,” I replied.
“No – they’re just logs!”
But then one of the logs flicked an ear! “One male and three females” I informed him.
A little while later the dining female got up and went to join the pride.
They all sat up to greet her and then the male decided he needed more nourishment and went off to the kill chasing the jackal for good measure. We watched for a bit longer and then made our way to Halali well satisfied with our morning.
It was just after 11 when we arrived. We checked in, went to the tourist shop to get a few supplies and then got our caravan set up on site 8 before the Mools arrived. I was worried that they would miss the lions but although they’d detoured to a waterhole they did get to see them. They were all under the sleeping tree enjoying a final chew on the bones.
The Mools were soon set up and we had a bite to eat and a nap before setting out for a short game drive at 15:30.
We visited Nuanasa waterhole where we had fun watching the antics of golden breasted bunting, cinnamon breasted bunting, Cape glossy starlings and red headed quelea.
Goaz is always a good water hole to visit but there wasn’t much to see today. However, we enjoyed the few zebra and impala as well as the Egyptian geese and redbilled teal.
When we got back to camp we went to the waterhole, then went back for a braai. After supper Tony, Pat and I went to the waterhole for an hour and saw a rhino with a baby, another rhino joined them for a while and then they went their separate ways. A few hyena also visited.
Halali has the best water hole of all three camps.
Apologies to my regular followers for not posting every day. The internet in the bush is slow and won’t even think of obliging to upload my photographs! My diary is up to date so I will post when I can. There probably won’t be another until I return to Struisbaai. Today I’m in Windhoek but then it’s The Kgalagdi where there’s no internet at all.
6 November 2018\
The picnic sites in Etosha are not great so we usually stop at a waterhole and have brekkie in the car. This can be tricky when it comes to pouring coffee and dishing out cereal but a chopping board, balanced on Pat’s file which just fits over the box of field guides makes a suitable table.
When we parked off at Groot Okvevi, there was not much to see except for a few doves and starlings taking the waters. We sat and watched for a while and then other birds appeared to entertain us. Then a dear little steenbok appeared and timidly took a drink before scampering off.
The Earl captured the reflection so beautifully
After that the action really began – we munched on cereal and boiled eggs while watching zebra. Then a family of four kudu emerged from the bushes and took turns to drink. They became very alert and then something frightened them and they sprang out of the water and further up the bank.
A pregnant hyena came loping down the from the thicket and plunged straight into the water. She sat down up to her neck and the other animals could only look on and hope she’d leave soon. But she was enjoying her bath and stayed for ages. Tony quipped – I think she’s planning a water birth!
We also enjoyed watching Namaqua and Burchell sandgrouse fly in to the water’s edge take a drink and then fly off again. This happens in waves and is fascinating to watch.
We spent about three hours just at this one waterhole. The hyena did eventually leave the water but she plopped down under a nearby tree and had a sleep in the shade. When we returned in the afternoon, she was back in the pond.
We went back to camp just before 11 and spent some time at the Camp Waterhole then rested till 2:30 when we went out again.
After stopping off to see our pregnant hyena we drove some roads and the highlights were at Tsumcar waterhole which is really popular with the in-crowd. Not sure what the waiting list here is but it’s always busy.
This warthog had fun rolling in the mud
We also enjoyed the shore birds
We arrived at another waterhole just in time to see the elephants come down for their evening drink and bath.
Our day ended with a delicious chicken stir fry. Pat and I prepared the ingredients and Tony cooked it expertly on the Skottel.
We left The Waterberg and enjoyed a very pleasant trip to Namutoni. Check in went well and we were excited to be back in Etosha National Park. We had thoroughly enjoyed our trip in July 2015 and were very much looking forward to this our first caravan trip to the park.
Entering the Etosha
Within minutes of entering the Gate we encountered springbok, black faced Impala and this gorgeous giraffe
Entrance to Namutoni Rest Camp
We were assigned a lovely shady campsite
Once we were set up we had some lunch, a rest and then set out at just after 4 pm. Etosha is made of saline desert, woodlands and savanna grasslands.
The salt pans in the park are mostly devoid of vegetation with the exception of a protein-rich grass that is used by wildebeest, zebra, oryx and springbok among other grazers.
Although our first drive was a short one we saw a number of interesting birds and animals.
The sabota lark welcomed us with a song
There was little to be seen at Two Palms
Lesser Grey Shrike
We were on our way back to camp when this fellow appeared and crossed the road.
We followed him for 15 minutes – there was only one other car to share the experience with.
Each camp in Etosha has a waterhole that you can visit any time of day or night. Before dinner we popped over to Namutoni’s Hide to watch the sun set. We did not braai tonight, but instead cooked chicken and vegetables in the Remoska Pot. It was an awesome end to a delightful day.