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JayRon

Kgalagadi and Mabuasehube selfdrive - The adventure of a lifetime

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JayRon

Intro:

After reading @wilddog post about  "where did all the trip reports go" I decided to give it a go. This is mainly because of three thing. The first is that I being trying to write one for the last 7-8 months, but always found an excuse not to.The other one was that my(our) trip to Kgalagadi probably was the best safari I/we ever been one. Especially when it come downs big cats sightings and other lots of other crazy situations. The kind that makes great campfire stories later. 

And the last is that I think I owe one, because over the years I read so many wonderful report which inspired me a lot.


But I somehow feel  that I also must adress why it taken me so long to get started. One reason is that english is not my first language, so sometimes it takes me so long to formulate the words. Also I not a big photographer, so compared with a lot of other trip reports I feel the pressure, because there is just so many awesome photographers on this forum :)


Just a little about me (and my family)
This  trip to South Africa/Botswana was our 6 trip to Africa. It was the 5th time my 14 year old son was in Africa and the 4th time for my 10 year old son. We always self-drive. We like the freedom, one of the biggest advantages is that we can stay as long as we want to at a sighting. And you wouldn´t believe how patient the kids is. Sometimes even more than their parents. ;) An added bonus of having the kids with us, is that they have great eyesight's. Especially my oldest son is great at spotting game. Also a deciding factor to do self-drive safaris, is frankly it keeps costs down. We basically have more time than money :) 


Our photos can´t compare with may of the others on this forum, but we mainly take photos(and videos) so we can remember the places and sightings. But I hope that they re good enough to give an impression how the trip was. Our equipment is pretty basic . We have an old Canon 500D with a sigma 70-300mm, and for this trip we added a Nikon P900, which is very easy to operate. Since I do most of the driving and my wife is terrible at taking pictures a lot of the pictures is taken of my oldest son. Some of them even by my youngest. I think that over time, they willbe alot better as a photographer than me. 


The Kgalagadi trip was actually part of a 3 month trip that took us to South Africa, Botswana, Maldives, Sri Lanka and India.  I decided to write the part about Kgalagadi, because that was simply, just the best part of the whole trip.

 

Our trip started in december 2018 and and first we went to Kruger. We spent 14 days in Kruger and had a great time with great sightings of lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs. This is the second time that we started in Kruger and the went to Kgalagadi afterwards. I think it is a great combination, because first you get your fix of elephants, rhinos, buffaloes and of course a lot of other great animals. Also the scenery is completely different, when you compare to Kgalagadi.
We used Bushlore for the car hire. We used them twice before and were very satisfied with them, so for this trip we decided to use them once again. Besides doing the car rental, Bushlore helped us with booking campsites in the Botswana part of Kgalagadi. And they were excellent, since they pretty much got us everything we asked for. 

 

So this trip report starts when we are around 20 days into our 3 months trip.

 
Our 19-days itinerary in Kgalagadi and Mabuasehube looked like this:


29.december 2018 Kgalagadi Lodge                                                                                                                                                

30.december 2018 Twee Rivieren campsite                                                                                                                                    

31.december-3 january Kalahari Tented Camp                                                                                                                                

4. January Mata Mata campsite                                                                                                                              

5-8 january Rooiputs campsite no. 1                                                                                                    

9-10. january Nossob campsite                                                                                                                                                                              

11-12 January Polentswa Campsite no.2                                                                                                                                                  

13. January  Nossob campsite                                                                                                                                                                          

14. January Matopi 1 no.1                                                                                                                                                                          

15-16 January Mpayathutlwa no.1

 

We knew that it was going to be hot in Kgalagadi, so to keep the kids and the wife happy, I planned to have most days near a svimmingpool. The temperature was above 40 degrees celsius each day, so they were basically "Lifesavers" as my wife called them. And I agree with her on that. Only days where it was not possible was in Mabuasehube. 

 

We drove from Kruger to Kgalagadi. It only took 2 days, but we had original planned to use 3 days, so we were 1 day early for our bookings.. We stocked up with supplies in Upington. Got the best meat from Upington Slaghuis. We ordered it before online, so it was vakuumpacked and frozen. We bought meat for 14 days. It was delicious, some of the best meat we ever had. And compared to Denmark it was cheap. We bought beef fillet, t-bone, minced meat, and a lot of different kebabs.  The whole package costed around 1000 Rand.

 

image.png.5fa97030506e784bfe71de259e27c38f.png  

We tried to get a campsite at Twee Rivieren, but everything was booked, so we stayed at Kgalagadi Lodge instead. Good choice and only a few kilometres from the gate. I was itching to get into the park, but since we had 19 days, we decided to relax at the pool and just get an early start next morning.

Kgalagadi Lodge was great, they have a small shop (but very limited choice), a svimmingpool, restaurant and your own ablutions, which is quite a luxury when you are camping.
image.png.69beb1d8e0aa80d12238deb6dfb2f8a7.png
 

Edited by JayRon

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mtanenbaum

Your trip sounds amazing! I can't wait to read the details. Kgalagadi is on my bucket list, even if I can't remember how to spell it and have to copy and paste it! How wonderful that you are traveling with your kids to Africa so much. I took my son twice to Africa (he was a bit older, a university student) and the trips are fantastic lifetime memories. 

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Seniortraveller

Brilliant, just the trip report I need. We are going to Kgalagadi for the first time next May, looking forward to reading this.

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JayRon

30.december 2018 Twee Rivieren Campsite. Morning gamedrive

 

We were a bit surprised by the weather. It was windy, chilly and cloudy. The temperature was around 17-18 degrees. It felt cold.

 

After having done the formalities at the reception we decided to drive up North along the Nossob riverbed. 

 

The standard sign of Kgalagadi. You just have to have a picture of this.

DSCN2063.jpeg.2db1d24e704441fd1caf6880f37104a0.jpeg

 

We didn´t make it out of camp before it started raining. And the temperatures fell to around 17-18 celsius. The Kgalagadi was very dry, so it was some much needed rain. Unfortunately  it was the first and only time we had rain during our stay.
Because of the rain it was a fairly quiet gamedrive.

 

Even the springboks didn´t do much. DSCN1924-optimize.jpeg.9346f1bbc802bc2a8539ea82ca900125.jpeg                          IMG_1723.JPG.ffa3aa5c90abaad2f161992f983275dd.JPG

 

 We drove all the way up to Melkvlei Picnic Site. We passed by some of the more popular waterholes like Leeudril, Rooiputs and Kij Kij. All of them were pretty empty except the occasionally oryx or springbok. But later in the trip Kij Kij would deliver big time. <_<

At Melkvlei we managed to get some nice pitures of these lizards, at that time I could remember the name, but now it seems that I have forgotten, can anyone help? 

image.png.889d9537000434febaf4a52acd68f4fd.png

 

The trip back to Twee Rivieren was quiet, but very nice to be back in the park.

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wilddog

Fantastic that you have taken the plunge @JayRon. Thank you so much and welcome to the Trip Report authors group 😊

 

What a joy to travel with your children. They are very lucky. 

 

Nothing wrong with your English at all and the photos look pretty good to me. I cannot help with the Agama? but no doubt one of our members can advise you

 

Looking forward to hearing more about it ..

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shouldbewriting

Good for you for jumping in! 

 

Looking forward to hearing all about it..l

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Hads

Thanks for sharing your trip report @JayRon - looking forward to your report.

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Peter Connan

I'm enjoying this!

 

I think your lizard is a Ground Agama?

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JayRon
34 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

I'm enjoying this!

 

I think your lizard is a Ground Agama?

 Thank you, you are completely right. It´s all coming back to me ;);) 

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JayRon

Just to people who aren´t familiar with Kgalagadi I inserted a map of it. The area around just north of Twee Rivieren is fairly busy most days, since a lot of daytrippers do that route. Your best chance to get a great sightings is at the waterholes.  Some of these are much better that others, I read somewhere it is comes down to which waterholes has "sweet" water. The water in Kgalagadi is very brakish (salty) and even for toothbrushing it was a challenge.


kgalagadi-transfrontier-map.jpg.3e0c3826c17fad56c54efc24805b6cdd.jpg In the southern part, the best waterholes are Leeudril, Rooiputs and Kij KIj. So you basically drive to a waterhole and wait. It takes a some patience, but over the years we improved. Now we just park in the shade, play some cards or read a book, great at killing time.  If you ever been to Etosha it is pretty much the same. 


After having checkout the swimmingpool and relaxed for a couple of hours, we decided to try our luck again on the Nossob riverbed. The waterholes on the Nossob side up to the lower Dune road are generally more productive than the ones on the Aoub side.

 

But again it was fairly quiet. We did however spot a black backed jackal eaten something a few kilometers north of Rooiputs. First we couldn´t decide what it was, but after having check with our binoculars, we could see it probably was a wildcat.DSCN1982.JPG.2ee6385aef8b364524b80b37e0676193.JPG
Later we spoke to a couple who witness the actually kill. They confirmed it was a wildcat.There had been 2 jackals who had taken turns at driving the wildcat tired. I somehow have mixed feelings about it. It is strange to see a predator(even if it is small) ending up as prey. 

One of them had already taken a big chunk of it away. We suspected that they taken it to their den. 

DSCN1991.JPG.73c10b4520037b447f6e144a945acdff.JPGDSCN2006.JPG.9b9c21a4c9c76bf96e42a6197237d822.JPGOn the way back we spotted this beatiful martial eagle.... It was a bit far away, but with the Nikon P900 we were able to get some decent shots of it. The Nikon has zoom up to 2000mm.  The eagle was huge. We are not birders, but when you see raptors that big, I get impressed. We were not the only ones, I think there were around 6-7 cars looking at it. DSCN2045.JPG.4409264f7402014f6867d5415ecc02b9.JPGDSCN2051.JPG.d07ad7997b684f2398d807b82e0b599d.JPG

 

After this sighting we returned to camp and had a good night sleep. This day would be the last quiet day for the next two weeks ;)

 

DSCN2036.JPG

Edited by JayRon

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xelas

I know about English not being the mother language, and about how difficult sometimes is to post a trip report, but honestly, your opening posts are excellent, and there is nothing wrong with your (sons) photos. I am looking forward to follow your adventures in KTP, but I am equally interested in the rest of your mega trip, the Kruger and Sri Lanka and India! One day, maybe? For now, I am happy to read about Kgalagadi.

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JayRon
4 minutes ago, xelas said:

I know about English not being the mother language, and about how difficult sometimes is to post a trip report, but honestly, your opening posts are excellent, and there is nothing wrong with your (sons) photos. I am looking forward to follow your adventures in KTP, but I am equally interested in the rest of your mega trip, the Kruger and Sri Lanka and India! One day, maybe? For now, I am happy to read about Kgalagadi.

Thank you @xelas If I remember correct you wrote an excellent report yourself about Kgalagadi. And I think you were the one how recommend Upington Slaguis in the report. If that was you I owe you a big thank you. Never eaten that good on a selfdrive safaribefore :D

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xelas

Thanks, @JayRon! I did wrote a trip report about Kgalagadi, but our supplies were taken from Pick'n'Pay. However, the meat was delicious wherever we bought it, both in South Africa and in Namibia. Next time I will try Upington Slaghuis.

 

I like how the pick-up area was arranged by Bushlore. Was the fridge on the slides? 

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JayRon
8 minutes ago, xelas said:

 

 

I like how the pick-up area was arranged by Bushlore. Was the fridge on the slides? 

 

Not this time, we hired a Hliux Bushcamper before. It had slides. There was a huge drawer which you could pull out, that was a big help. I like the bushcamper version better, but the boys are just to big these days. 

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Treepol

Looking forward to reading about Mabuasuhube as I don't know much about this area. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying your Kgalagadi report. How unusual for a wildcat to be caught out by jackals, surely an unexpected hunt.

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JayRon

31. december New Years Day


After just one night at Twee Rivieren we were scheduled for 4 nights at Kalahari Tented Camp (KTP). It was a favorite from our last visit in 2014. And it was also nice to get a little luxury after almost 3 weeks of camping. This day were the only one (with Christmas Eve) were the boys were a little homesick.  
The only problem with having a Roof top Tent, is you have to pack and unpack every time you go for a drive. You get used to it and it also help that the kids are much older these days. We traveled with them in Namibia and Botswana when they were 2 and 6 years old, so compared this to then and now, it is just so much easier now. But still we were excited about staying at KTP.


We decided once again to drive the Nossob riverbed and the cross over at the Shorter Dune Road. Had the usual suspects, but did managed to see cape foxes playing in the morning sun. Also saw meerkats near Kij Kij. DSCN2072.jpeg.5c65c9f735c9c924c9edc4c7b30ba7ad.jpegDSCN2097.jpeg.d7b54b0be06b9ad29ed61b919137ef4f.jpegDSCN2134.jpeg.5e96688599e4e99a794cfeee2b4a77bc.jpegDSCN2124.jpeg.14e849db6e5979ec9372ed7f6a2c1f74.jpegAfter Kij KIj we took the Shorter Dune Road. The rest of the family was tired, so they took a nap and I was just concentrating on driving, so when we arrived at Tierkop waterhole, I wasn´t ready with the cameras. And then  to my huge surprise there was a big herd of elands. Knowing how skittish they are I just grabbed one camera and took some quick pictures. As soon the elands saw us ,they just started moving away. It took around 1-2 minutes and then they were gone behind the dunes. But a good sighting.

DSCN2125.JPG.215eaf4d168e52c2cee1495595acd8de.JPGDSCN2127.JPG.6712abf868ea3fe16c9e94f073b1cb9e.JPGDSCN2128.JPG.771f387e8c05e60d4715fe547b7d6828.JPG

 

I somehow have a confession to make. I really like seeing small and usual animals and unusual behaviour, but in the end it is the cats and predators I search for (and funny enough the rest of the family is similar).

The youngest one counts the animals, but these days it is only lion, cheetahs, hyenas,leopard, jackals,foxes etc. that gets counted.  Even if lions are sleeping I can stay for hours hoping to catch them doing something. So at this time we hoping to see the first Kalahari Lions on this trip. 

We shouldn´t wait much longer. When we was a kilometer south of Urikaruus waterhole there was 6-7 cars parked. That usual means something good :) 

And we were right, Lions!! 

But now the clock was around 12.00 and it was hot. But also windy. They was just lying down and doing nothing. We could see 4 lions. Two big male lions and 2 lionesses. But of course they did what lions do best. Absolute nothing, just lying down. But as I wrote earlier, we have patience.DSCN2159.JPG.583f438da4c7c561a381f492acd19e2d.JPGDSCN2175.JPG.fba1da83b0a522b20357e801b8fab89b.JPG

 

Nothing happend for 30 minutes, but then the lioness began moving. And the big male decide to follow. And they were coming in the right direction, we were in for treat :) IMG_1788.JPG.3f8301af2cf38ed02100c0b69e76608c.JPGIMG_1789.JPG.6b6b937b9cbc4e80b692fa8800230e12.JPGIMG_1792.JPG.c2406b117c6b30ac1ec66b6c77c7a5fe.JPGIMG_1794.JPG.f299380b5f9c96687eeef4ffb4de6046.JPGDSCN2199.JPG.604ef9f5ec280853ac872cd7692a3818.JPGDSCN2201.JPG.fa08de392f1bad5f582177e8171ed026.JPG

 

And in the end they settled down just beside the road. It was amazing. You probably noticed that the male had a bad eye. Because of that we nicknamed him "Silver-Eye". He looked in great condition, so he was doing good even though he was one-eyed. 

DSCN2212.JPG.10136481d92938497b3bbca53f09e8a2.JPGDSCN2217.JPG.e5cf30c1657e41968eefb8cbc32c4768.JPGIMG_1840.JPG.fd1bcbfcb47a4526e3fd08c2805a14c7.JPG

 

But a great lion sighting and very close. Little did we know that it was only a starter for what to come the following days. ;) I think one of the biggest pluses of Kgalagadi is that your sightings very often is of high quality. After having watched them for a another hour or so, we decided to continue up to KTP.

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Towlersonsafari

Wonderful  sightings  so far @JayRon

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Africalover

Great tripreport so far - keep it comming.

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ForWildlife

Very cool to do such a long overland trip with the family! Have the kids 3-month summer holidays? Or is there an arrangement with their schools needed? Thanks for sharing this trip report, it's already looking very good!

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michael-ibk

A very enjoyable report so far, glad you decided to do this! Seeing such a herd of Eland is a special thing, and the photos of the Martial are excellent. Looking forward to more!

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JayRon
5 hours ago, ForWildlife said:

Very cool to do such a long overland trip with the family! Have the kids 3-month summer holidays? Or is there an arrangement with their schools needed? Thanks for sharing this trip report, it's already looking very good!

 

No 3 months summer holiday, unfortunately, it would be cool to have it every year ;) We just asked our boys schools permission to take them out for 3 months and they were supportive. They might fall a little behind on some classes, but they just learn so much about the world, which I think is good. In Denmark we (in my opinion) have one of the best welfare societies in the world, but I think it is good to see, that it is not like that in the whole world. And on trips like this we learn a lot from the different places and cultures we visit. 

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Hads

Great stuff thanks @JayRon. On my bucket list to get here one day.

The poor Male lion with the injured eye, like you mentioned he looks in good shape. Great shots of the Martial eagle too!

 

Does each of the Kgalagadi camps (or Main camps) have a swimming pool?

Edited by Hads

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Atravelynn

You had a nice long time for your safari. Then I saw it was part of a 3-month trip.  That is amazing!

Your sons are very lucky to be safari veterans at a tender age.  If they have comments or observations or photos, you'll have to include them.

I'd have mixed emotions about the dead wildcat killed by jackals too.  But the wildcat might have killed those baby jackals in your photos if it had lived.  I'd have mixed emotions about that too.  Nature does what it does.

Interesting comment about the sweet water.  Looking forward to more adventures in the Kgalagadi and beyond.

 

Edited by Atravelynn

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JayRon

On the way to KTP we drove past some of the most popular (with animals and tourists:)) waterholes in the park. 13th Borehole, 14th Borehole, Dalkeith, Craig Lockhart and Sitsas. On this day there weren´t much around, but the next days all of them would deliver some great sightings. We did however see 5 kudus, which is a bit unusual in Kgalagadi. That is compared to springboks and oryxs. 

DSCN2266.JPG.d816050968a30f9ce895ea9467563217.JPGDSCN2274.JPG.bc49febbd994ed9476af15041d82a21d.JPG


Whe we arrived at KTP, there was no one at the reception, so we just signed ourselves in. We got unit 11 (a family tent) which had a good views of the waterhole.Even if the waterhole is quite far away. Some of the units were in the process of being upgraded, but ours was still the "old" version. But still at great little camp. To people not familiar with KTP,  it is a small camp with 12 units. It is unfenced which to me, is one of the biggest attraction.  Also have a small pool which was very useful.

We celebrated New Years Eve with some good food and then watched the waterhole after dark. But we didn´t make it to New Years Eve, we sleept at around 22.30. That haven´t happend in the last 40 years :) 

 

The boys relaxing at the porch.  You can just glimpse the waterhole in the riverbed, but even if it was a bit far away it was great attraction.

IMG_1843.JPG.66d67384367536488edde9efe7832431.JPGIMG_1857.JPG.6b3febf21b000d85c70aea1170b4cad9.JPG

No camping without a fire. As an European we normally use charcoal, but over the years we learns, that you need wood to make a great campfire. Or Bush TV as the locals call. IMG_1872.JPG.1f33f3ddbb8c75c1d6f5757a01407fc7.JPG

Sitting outside in the dark we sometimes felt a little vulnerable, but at all times we kept close to the doors. We only had one visitor and that was a jackal. DSCN2311.JPG.7eab8225939661011db7d58ef70d9f2c.JPG

 

We also stocked up with some fresh vegetables, but because of the heat, we only had some for the first 7-8 days. But great meal with some good meat (and chicken nuggets for the kids)

IMG_1878.JPG.49398c6cf0c380a5deedf2e9f206c0dc.JPG

 

A different New Years Eve, but still good. 

DSCN2304.JPG

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JayRon
10 hours ago, Hads said:

Great stuff thanks @JayRon. On my bucket list to get here one day.

The poor Male lion with the injured eye, like you mentioned he looks in good shape. Great shots of the Martial eagle too!

 

Does each of the Kgalagadi camps (or Main camps) have a swimming pool?

The main rest camps have pools, That being Twee Rivereren, Mata Mata and Nossob. And as the only one of the wilderness camps, Kalahari Tented Camp has a small one. But very useful, when it is above 40 degrees. 

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