Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 35. A Slow Day

It was a cool 13 degrees C when we left for our morning drive at 08:00 and it did not warm up much at all during the day.   All we did this morning was drive around the roads close to the camp. We did not find much but below are the highlights

Wattled Lapwing
Klipspringer
Manungakop one of the many rocky outcrops around Pretoriuskop was named after Manunga who was one of the followers of Joao Albasini
We were delayed by buffalo on our way back to camp
Here’s looking at you, kid.

After the buffs we popped in at Metsel Dam and found a mother with a very new baby.

Isn’t he the cutest little hippo you ever saw.

When we got back to camp, nobody felt like cooking breakfast outdoors so we went to the Pretoriuskop Wimpy.   We then spent some quiet time in camp, got the caravans ready for departure tomorrow and only went out again at half past four. We spent an hour at Shithave Dam in the hope that the creatures would come to us.  I think, though that they, like us, were feeling chilly and were hunkering down in some warm and sheltered spot that we could not see.

At first this heron hid behind a tree stump but at his supper time he decided to do some fishing.
Quick as a flash he went for his prey
And came up with a morsel
This is delicious

And that was all that we had for the day. 

We drove back to camp admiring the setting sun

The cold drove us to the restaurant again this evening and it was surprisingly good.   Earl and Cathy had Chicken schnitzel with salad, Alec had a chicken salad and I had grilled chicken breasts with spinach and butternut.  

Pretoriuskop is the oldest camp in Kruger National Park.  It is named after  the Voortrekker, Willem Pretorius, who died here in 1845. 

Pretoriuskop has a  large swimming pool  which we did not use and I did not take any photos but it is known to be the best one in the park.   There is also a play park for children.   
The Park Shop is good and the restaurant, a Wimpy, is open from 07:00 to 19:00.  

The ablutions were clean and neat and seemed well maintained.  There are hooks in the shower cubicles but no bench as there is not enough room to put them.  They do not have mixer taps which makes it difficult to adjust the water to the correct temperature.   Tonight, there was no hot water at all.   Another problem is that when someone is running a bath, the hot water in the shower stops running.

The laundromat was out of order.  However, we were able to have our washing done by dropping it off at reception in the morning and collecting it beautifully done and folded in the afternoon.   It is a free service but they say you may give a donation which we did.

There are two sections to the campground – the upper tier and the lower tier.  We were on the lower tier and it was the better section. The campsites are not well laid out.   It is difficult to know which area belongs to you.   The ground is also hard and uneven.  However, we had enough shade and access to electricity and a tap. 

It is a very pretty camp with lovely trees and it is good for birding.  

Game viewing around Pretoriuskop, we found, was not as good as elsewhere.  It is supposed to be good for finding rhino, sable and roan but we were not lucky in this respect. Having said all that, it is not a bad place to camp and I would go back another time.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 27 – Twee Rivieren

22 November 2018

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. 

Enjoying the early morning sun
Should I come out of my hole?
Isn’t she the cutest!

Then we watch two springbok locking horns in a friendly battle of strength

These two entertained us when they decided to lock horns and tussle

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.

And a jackal comes down to drink

From there we drive to Melkvlei where The Earl cooks us a delicious birthday breakfast on the Skottel.

Pat poured some water in a plastic lid and the birds drank thirstily

After breakfast we take the Dune Road.

Korhaans love this habitat
Typical Kgalagadi Dune

 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.

Happy Birthday, Helen
We were expecting you!
Is that a springbok I spy?
Let’s go get him!
 Come on – before he sees us!

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!

Oh well – maybe next time – let’s go back to the shade
Stop sniffing – Keep up!
Okay – I’m coming!

There are only two other cars and we have nobody blocking our view – just awesome.

Thank you for being a friend
Goodbye, Cheetahs – You made my day!

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!

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 26 – Twee Rivieren

21 November 2018

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.

I intend staying here all day – please don’t disturb my nap.
And when we visited later in the day – this is what we found!

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. 

African Wild Cat

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!

It strongly resembles Pussy at home –  but note the striped legs – and don’t try to pet her – she’s truly wild!

Those were the two highlights of the day.  We also enjoyed the birds tortoises and ground squirrels and a cute little mouse.

Black-shouldered kite
Lanner Falcon
Pririt Batis
Ant-eating chat
This ground squirrel was in our camp!
Very Cute

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!

The colours of the Kgalagadi

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 25 – Nossob to Twee Rivieren

20 November 2018

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.

Mother Spotted Eagle Owl
Baby Spotted Eagle Owl

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!

Having a lovely nap

We also saw springbok, tortoise, birds, ground squirrels and suricates but no cheetah and no leopard!

A Lovely Herd of Springbok
Ground squirrels
Surricate on guard
Suricate tails!
Leopard Tortoise

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 24 – Nossob

19 November 2018

Nossob to 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!  

Two Lions coming to drink

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

Martial Eagle
A Red-necked falcon also posed beautifully for us

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.

Yellow mongooses in camp

Afternoon drive – Nossob to Cubitje Quap and Kwang and back

On the way we found a spotted eagle-owl in a tree

Parents with juvenile

At Kwang Water Hole we found lion!

The male was on the side of the road
The females were under the trees near the water hole

There were some vultures there too.

Lapet-faced vultures
Lapet-faced and white-backed vultures

We left the creatures in peace and drove on for a while.  When we came back they were more active.

Starting to wake up
Then a female flopped down next to him
She was a bit more wakeful
He decided to stretch and yawn
And gave us an authoritative stare
We thought they might hunt but clearly it was too early for dinner and they flopped down again

On our return drive we found that there were two owls in the tree.  

The one we saw on the way there
And this one spreading his wings

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 22 and 23 – Mata Mata to Nossob

17 November 2018

Pack up and set up day today.  

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.

Necking giraffe
Thirsty Wildebeest
Lanner Falcon

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.

Lots of these were flitting about near the gate to the pool
No better way to get cool – a wonderful splash in the pool!
Swallow-tailed bee-eaters sat on the shady fence and watched us wallow in the water

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. 

Cubitje Quap – early in the morning
Tree full of birds
A lanner tried to catch some birds while this immature Pale Chanting looked on

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.

Red-necked Falcon

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.

Lappet-faced Vulture

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.

Sunset at Nossob

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 21 – Mata Mata

16 November, 2018

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. 

Mr and Mrs Bateleur

There were also a number of vultures around.

White-backed Vulture

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.  

Catching some early morning rays
Digging for something
What did you find?
Mum keeps a careful eye on the puppies
Ever so cute

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.

Hundreds of turtle doves
Swallow-tailed bee-eater also made an appearance

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.

Much better the next day isn’t it 
Ground squirrels are always around 
This Kori  Bustard is trying to attract a mate

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.

Two stationary Ford Rangers – What have they seen? wondered the occupants of the Ford Everest






I see you – Do you see me?

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.

Full and ready for a nap
I’m so sleepy, Mom
I wander what those canned people are staring at?

The rest of the afternoon produced some birding and a few of the usual animals but no cheetah nor a leopard!

Secretary Bird
Spotted Thick-knee with baby
Thick-knee on nest – just a scrape in the ground
Shikra

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.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 20 – Mata Mata

Thursday 15 November 2018

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.

Our Camp at Mata Mata

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.

The Hide overlooking a Water Hole

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.

A Swallow-tailed bee-eater in full song
Secretary bird
Male Ostrich seeking shade

Chat fly-catcher
The animals really rely on  camel thorn trees during the heat of the day

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.

Black-breasted snake-eagle trying to hide
Namaqua dove
Red-headed finch

The Gemsbok were enjoying a drink until theu saw the bullies arrive.

When the wildebeest show up the other buck make way

The Gemsbok allow the bullies to drink until they all scatter  when predators arrive

—  Even though these ones are much smaller than the  grazers they are treated with wary respect
Did you know that giraffe sometimes sit down!

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!

Hopefully the tawny will not get an attack of the runs!
A rather grumpy looking wildebeest

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.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure Day 18 and 19 – Windhoek to Mata Mata

13 November – Windhoek

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.

Our smashed back windscreen

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.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 17 – Okaukuejo

12 November 2018

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 

Crimson-breasted shrike – National Bird of Namibia

 

Sabota Lark
Purple Roller

Then we went past Gemsbok vlakte and on to Olifantsbad. 

On the side of the road we found this broken-horned steenbok

Spot his wife over the road

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.

Spot the Red Hartebeest Baby following his mommy.

 

Still wobbly on his legs

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.

Are you guys okay?
It’s cool and shady here, thanks Mom and Dad