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JayRon

Kgalagadi and Mabuasehube selfdrive - The adventure of a lifetime

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JayRon

4.1 Afternoon gamedrive from Mata Mata
Again it was scorching hot, but we were on the road again around 15.00. We didn`t have to wait to long to get yet another sighting:). Only drove around 5 km to Sitsas. Again it was my oldest son who spotted ..... A cheetah!!

 

It might be one of the males we seen one of the other days, but this time it was alone. What I find so great about cheetahs is that they move during daylight. If you see lions in the middle of the day, most of the time, they will do (almost)nothing. But cheetahs are different, they move a lot more around. So again we had a great sighting with the cheetah drinking at the waterhole and then crossing the road just next to ur car. This sighting we have almost to ourselves. One more car arrived just in time to see it before it disappear into the dunes. 

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This photo is the one my son is proudest of. And I also like it a lot...:)DSCN3128.JPG.74cfd58b48741bcb78ef240c44e92758.JPGDSCN3151.JPG.4cff321fec76b099c0846ffdc6443c20.JPG

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We drove all the way down to the 13th Borehole, but we only see the usual suspects. On the way back there was suddenly a "traffic jam" ahead. Around 10 cars (and in Kgalagadi this is a lot. Normally the most is around 5-6 cars, which is not a big problem since the sightings often are in the open, which makes watching easier.) stands still, which can only mean something spectacular ahead !! 
It turns out it is another cheetah sighting!! This was our 7th sighting in 2 days!

 

This time it is a mother and her old cub on a kill. It turns out that we just missed the kill with around 5 minutes. The prey was a young wildebeest. The boys and me were a little disappointed, but the sighting was still great. People were friendly and gave each other plenty of space, so all cars got good views. We heard from another car that the wildebeest got separated from it´s mother during a small sandstorm .Later in camp I saw a video of the kill. The young  wildebeest  was walking on the road calling, when the cheetah just came and grabbed it by the neck. Kill almost instantly. So no high speed chase that time. That made me feel a little bit better about missing the kill.
We watched the cheetahs feeding for like 30 minutes. The cheetahs ate quickly and were really nervous, constantly checking for dangers. And since we haven´t seen any hyenas so far,  I suspected that the main danger must be coming from lions in this area. 

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Completely high we were now joking that we only needed one more sighting, then our pattern(and luck) would continue. And yet again Kgalagadi would deliver!

Saw one car parked next to the road. And then we spotted two beautiful lionesses walking in the riverbed. We drove next to the lions for a few minutes before we decided, that we would drive to the next waterhole and wait for them.IMG_2168.JPG.274e2cca1d8f7979c67949095703a574.JPG

 

The waterhole was Craig Lockhart. At the waterhole there was two giraffes drinking, but the quickly sensed the lions and just moved away. The lions went to the waterhole and posed for a lot of pictures. Now it was getting late, so we enjoyed the last few minutes and went back to camp. 

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Again it was an amazing day. At this time we were totally spoiled with so many sightings of lions and cheetahs..

Edited by JayRon

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Hads

Absolutely cracking report thanks @JayRonm - your sons photo is a ripper !

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JayRon


5.1 Morning drive from Mata Mata towards Rooiputs

 

The Day of the Lion Rescue(just a little teaser :) )


After having such great sightings in the Mata Mata area, we were excited about moving to a different area of the park. And a little bit sad, We seen so much around Mata Mata, which would be very hard to beat. For the next 4 days we would camp at Rooiputs Campsite, which lies in Botswana. Sounds more adventuros than it is. The campsite itself lies only around 500 m away from the Nossob road. It is around 20 km north of Twee Rivieren, so it also lies in the most visited part of Kgalagadi. To get to Rooiputs from Mata Mata, we needed to drive around 140 km with an average speed around 25-30 km. It would be a long day !! Little did we know what it had in store for us.


It started great! We drove less than 1 km, when we spotted 3 cheetahs in the distance. But they were so far away, that we didn´t even take a picture. So no proof:(. We then took the Auob road down south, passing the Sitsas waterhole, where we seen so much the previous days. But today nothing. Just before Dalkeith waterhole  a car stopped us and told, that there was a leopard around. It just been to the waterhole for a drink, but disappeared into the dunes. We waited around for 15 minutes, and then the leopard made an (brief) apperance. It stayed in the shade, but remained in the same place for a few minutes, before  it moved away. We waited a little longer, but it never reappeared. But it was our first leopard in Kgalagadi, which was great! And we managed to get a few pictures as proof :)

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We had a great time going down the Aoub, we had some great sightings of oryxs and giraffes fighting (not with each other ;)). Very entertaining.

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Just after Batulama we had another sighting of a male lion sleeping in the shade. It took a little time before we discovered it was Silver-Eye.  He still looked great, even with his dead eye.

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"Oh, it is you again". Only opened his eye(s) for a brief moment...DSCN3420.JPG.b07f2e05dc5ca69c627a381dfa0be18a.JPG

When we drove on, we stopped another car and told him about the lion. In return he told us about 3 lions around Auchterlonie. Sometimes it pays to be friendly !! 

 


We found the lions easily and stayed with them for around 15 minutes. I think it was the rest of "Silver-eyes" pride, but are not completely sure.

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Then we took the short dune road towards Rooiputs. No more sightings at this route.


We arrived at Rooiputs campsite around 14.00. Rooiputs consist only of 6 campsites. People who been camping in Botswana. know that a campsite normally consist of an A-frame (for shade) and a longdrop toilet and a shower. Sometimes the shower is just a bucket-shower, but at Rooiputs there is running water, so the shower was actually quiet nice. But a very basic campsite. And of course it is unfenced. 
We had booked  4 nights through Bushlore at campsite no.1, which we found good. We shared facilities with campsite no.2 . The longdrop was unfortunately disgusting, by far the worst on the whole trip. We suspected that there been a big group here the previous nights. From the tyre tracks, it look that way anyway. But the camp is beautiful and even if KTC is unfenced, this just felt a lot more wild.

 

Some pictures from our campsite.

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Toilet and shower.

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 The boys were a little bit anxoius about lions and leopards. We already heard stories about a big old male (the Rooiputs Male) which had a tendency to hang around the campsite. But I reassured the boys that they shouldn´t worry, because the chances to see a lion would be very slim...... I wish. I hadn´t said that.  Less than 10 minutes later. I see a man in the distance, walking around the campsite. He was quite far away, maybe 100 m. Suddenly he began running. It took me a few seconds to understand why, but then I saw a huge male lion walking over the dunes. The lion was very relaxed, and luckily he showed no interest in chasing the man. Instantly I told the the others to get into the car. We just hurried over to see, what was happening and if we could help with anything. We found the poor fellow at campsite no. 6, were he was looking quite disturbed. We of course offered our help. He quickly told us, that his wife was trapped in car. The car got stucked when they drove around the campsite. There is a big water tank in the campsite, which was leaking a bit. That attracts animals, including lions! Unfortunately they got stucked next to it. He had gone for help and his wife started to dig (He must be a smart man <_<). While he was walking, he saw the lion and just sprinted back to warn her. He couldn´t make it all the way back to her, but the wife heard him yelling and went into the car. Now she was stucked in the car with temperatures above 40 degrees. That was just too hot. We had a 4x4 , so we decided to try to get her out .The only problem(which was a huge problem) was the lion which was just 25-30 m away !! 
We drove as close as possible to her car and then she sneaked over to our car. Damn she was nervous and her only word was just "Shit", when she entered the car.. I wish I had the nerve to drive a little closer, but I wasn´t prepared to get stuck as well. Her problem was that she couldn´t locate the lion, she never saw it, just heard her man shouting and just bolted into the car.  I must say that she was very brave, I am not sure what I would have done . When she was safely inside the car , we just all laughed and giggled like crazies(around here you realize,that this will be a great campfire story).  But as long the lion was around, there wasn´t a chance in hell for me to try to pull their car free. We offered the pair the opportunity to stay with us and wait a little and see if the lion would move away. They declined, since they had a caravan at their campsite. We then agreed, that we would return an hour later. I think they needed a G&T ;) 

 

The Old Rooiputs Male Lion

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Getting ready to sneak out of the car, while the lion is at the water tank... She was brave... DSCN3472_Moment.jpg.f157f1ea533070505fdcc19f47681563.jpg
So much for no lions in the campsite, so now we were suddenly a lot more alert. We tried to relax and play some cards before we returned to their campsite. When we returned, we found them busy trying to pull their car free. Some friendly South Africans had offered their help. It turned out it was a father and his adult son. They weren´t too worried about the lion. But they had the woman as a watchman. She kept an eye on the lion all time , while her husband and and the two South Africans( which were really friendly) were working and digging around the car. Only problem was that their rope wasn´t strong enough, so it broke when they tried to pull the car free. I knew that I had some rescue equipment in our rental car, so I searched the car and found a new rope and within minutes, I found myself digging and trying to help. I don´t like digging, and it doesn´t help,when there is a lion around :unsure:. Must say it was a new experience.  Luckily the lion couldn´t care less about all the commotion and just relaxed in the shade. In the end we managed to pull the car out. Much to the satisfaction of us all. And in the end we all got a great story to tell :)

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The lookout ...DSCN3503.JPG.0d7b1b47133b42ea195f083ce339974f.JPG

 

And we are free....DSCN3504_Moment.jpg.4c6a857924aae6ba3d5a98523a05974e.jpg

 


After this adrenalin rush we just took a very short gamedrive to Kij Kij, but nothing special. Around Rooiputs we found out, that there is 3 waterholes within a kilometer. There is the Rooiputs waterhole, which is found along the Nossob road. The Rooiputs lodge has it´s own waterhole and then there is a small waterhole inside the campsite. You can see it from campsite 6, if I remember correct.

Rooiputs Lodge in the background. The A-frame is campsite 6. IMG_2274.JPG.d3037f1692712fbcb35473fc7a8d41e8.JPG

From campsite 6 you are looking at Rooitputs Lodge, which some find annoying. Mainly because there is light from the lodge during the night. On the plus side, you have the waterhole, so my opinion is that there is no bad campsites at Rooiputs. We found campsite no.1 great, but I think we would have been happy on any spot. 
Back in camp we spoke with the other campers at campsite no.2. Two couples from Cape Town, very friendly and quite humorous. The men were walking around the campsite in circles and I asked what they were doing. They were counting/doing steps to keep in shape. And it turned out that if the could prove, that they were exercising, they would have a cheaper life insurance. That idea haven´t reach Denmark yet. 
It was getting dark.We were brushing our teeth and getting ready for bed, my (again the oldest) son just kinda said, "there is 2 lions walking over there". He just sounded very casual, like this is not a big deal(but maybe it had something to do, with the fact that we were standing next to the car). Took me a while to actually see them. Two lionesses were just walking down towards the Rooiputs waterhole. Not very far from us.

 

 

Not very easy to see anything in the dark. But the lions are there in the dark. 

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We tried to warn the other campers at campsite 2, but that turned out to be a minor mistake. They couldn´t hear us properly, but they could see us pointing. Only problem was, that they were curious about what we were pointing at, so they just moved closer and closer towards the lions. I remember that I thought, if they don´t stop, they will  step on them eventually(or much worse,I was beginning to see pictures of a lion attacking one of them). Then they finally saw the lions (and we are talking around a distance of 30-40 m) and they were just kind "Oh, nice, it is lions". Just gave us a thump up and went back to their camp. I think that shows that lions don´t normally prey on humans. If they wanted, they could have taken them down within seconds. I talked to them next day and they were not as relaxed as it seems. But they knew it was a bad idea, if they started running.

 

Only picture I managed to take in the dark. 

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We all went to bed extremely satisfied after yet another crazy day in the Kgalagadi. 

 

Today we had 6 sightings, which fitted perfectly into our pattern. Now we gone 0-1-2-3-4-5-6 with big cat sightings.... Could we manage 7 the next day?<_<

 

 

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Edited by JayRon

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Hads

The days just keep getting better @JayRon:D

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xelas

That was a day of adrenaline running like torrent, and blood pressure not being under control! But what a campfire story to be told, over and over again. Plus, you have the benefit of photos to show!

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michael-ibk

Oh wow, talk about having an intense day. Really an exceptionally good Kgalagadi trip you were having!

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JayRon

 @Hads  @michael-ibk @xelas Thank you for your replies and comments. It is very nice to get a response :) And it was a crazy day.....

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Towlersonsafari

What excitement  @JayRon I hope your next post is not about the lions lulling  you into a false sense of confidence!!!

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JayRon
2 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

What excitement  @JayRon I hope your next post is not about the lions lulling  you into a false sense of confidence!!!

 

Before I traveled with my kids, that might been an issue, but not these days<_< And I have a very sensible wife too. ;)

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JayRon

6.1 Morning/afternoon gamedrives from Rooitputs.

 

 

I seemed that Kgalagadi (or Mother Nature) kept an eye on my blood pressure, because the next day was fairly quiet. But we also slept a little longer than usual... 

 

 

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We went down south towards Twee Rivieren, but didn´t see much . All the days we camped at Rooiputs,  we went to Twee Rivieren, mainly to take a svim in the pool. I am not sure if it is allowed, when you are not staying at Twee Rivieren, but we took the chance. It was a good investment, because every time, we felt refreshed and in good mood. We did quite a lot of shopping in the shop,  which I found pretty well-stocked. We still had plenty of meat from Upington Slaghuis, but we bought stuff like bread, soft drinks, snacks, firestarters, wood etc.


When we were short on "big" sightings, we concentrated on the smaller stuff. And we had a good sighting of suricates(or meerkats) and also saw a big herd of springbook near Kij Kij. IMG_2269.JPG.d7d2f2830afbbfb7e769247bf75d774a.JPGDSCN3391.JPG.f3fc5a2f801a6d9668e487d8b5fc1563.JPG

 

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We got some nice pictures of a bateleur sitting in a tree. I am not a birder, but that is a bird I find impressive. 

 

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We saw these two raptors at Rooiputs waterhole, can anyone help me identify them?

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Just before dusk we got a new visitor at the campsite, but this one wasn´t scary. Only a jackal, but he was quite tame. He got very close, so we assumed, that he was used to people and someone probably fed him. I think that most people know, that you shouldn´t feed the animals, but humans generate a lot of waste. So maybe he was just looking for scraps. 

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Getting ready for the nightDSCN3633.JPG.55a5a148206a4538027dc9086b75a30f.JPG

 

 

Looking out for lions, but no luck this evening.DSCN3620.JPG.d97d3a93838021ed242c17a952b50cfe.JPG

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xelas
35 minutes ago, JayRon said:

We saw these two raptors at Rooiputs waterhole, can anyone help me identify them?

 

Tawny Eagle. They are regulars in Kgalagadi, building huge nests on top of the tallest trees.

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Atravelynn

How uncomfortable to choose between a closed car when it is 40 degrees C or walking out to meet a lion.  I'm sure the couple that got stuck appreciated your help.  Another aspect of safari for your children.  Cats were the star buts I really like the sparring oryx and giraffes too.

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Peter Connan
15 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

How uncomfortable to choose between a closed car when it is 40 degrees C or walking out to meet a lion.  I'm sure the couple that got stuck appreciated your help.  Another aspect of safari for your children.  Cats were the star buts I really like the sparring oryx and giraffes too.

 

Yes, and so unnecessary!

 

That car was not even really stuck. If he/they had just deflated the tires properly, they would not have gotten stuck. In fact, I am convinced that by just deflating the tires, it would even have been possible to drive it out of the hole it was in.

 

When driving in the Kgalagadi, please deflate your tires to at most 1 bar. Firstly, it will make the corrugations much less jarring, secondly it does less damage to the roads and thirdly it really reduces the risk of something like this.

 

Secondly, if you do find the vehicle starting to dig in, deflate the tires some more, then gently drive forward and backward, little bit more each time, being very careful not to spin the tires. That way you will be out in 5 minutes, I almost guarantee it.

 

However, if you do need to deflate to less than say 0.7 bar, be careful to drive very slowly until you can re-inflate, and don;t go below about 0.4 bar as a minimum.

 

Really great trip report so far! Magnificent sightings.

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JayRon
3 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

 

Yes, and so unnecessary!

 

That car was not even really stuck. If he/they had just deflated the tires properly, they would not have gotten stuck. In fact, I am convinced that by just deflating the tires, it would even have been possible to drive it out of the hole it was in.

 

When driving in the Kgalagadi, please deflate your tires to at most 1 bar. Firstly, it will make the corrugations much less jarring, secondly it does less damage to the roads and thirdly it really reduces the risk of something like this.

 

Secondly, if you do find the vehicle starting to dig in, deflate the tires some more, then gently drive forward and backward, little bit more each time, being very careful not to spin the tires. That way you will be out in 5 minutes, I almost guarantee it.

 

However, if you do need to deflate to less than say 0.7 bar, be careful to drive very slowly until you can re-inflate, and don;t go below about 0.4 bar as a minimum.

 

Really great trip report so far! Magnificent sightings.

 

@Peter ConnanThanks for the advice, I will keep that in my mind on my next journey (which I am planning)

 

And you are probably right, that they could have deflated their tyres more. To their defense it was the only part of the campsite, which was so sandy, so I think they didn´t see it coming.  

 

And thanks for liking my trip report, we were really really lucky...  

 

 

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JayRon
On 11/24/2019 at 8:10 PM, xelas said:

 

Tawny Eagle. They are regulars in Kgalagadi, building huge nests on top of the tallest trees.

Thank you for clearing that up :) 

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JayRon
18 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

How uncomfortable to choose between a closed car when it is 40 degrees C or walking out to meet a lion.  I'm sure the couple that got stuck appreciated your help.  Another aspect of safari for your children.  Cats were the star buts I really like the sparring oryx and giraffes too.

They were really thankful and gave us a small present afterwards. We got some beautiful postcards with pictures from ..... Kgalagadi !! :rolleyes:

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Amylovescritters

Amazing TR and great pics. I am definitely going to do a self drive, camping trip. My hubby will not be interested but that’s  ok. Lol

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JayRon

7.1 Morning/afternoon gamedrive 


We were up early. Again we started going up north towards Kij Kij, we were at the waterhole around 7.00. We just caught a glimpse of a cheetah walking away from the waterhole, just managed to get a few pictures as proof.

 

DSCN3636.JPG.2090ee9db517becca17f4799835e464c.JPGAt the waterhole we talked to a very friendly man in a big autocamper. Must been really unpleasant driving around in that. He told us, that we just missed a brown hyena. He saw it at 6.46. And he said that this was the second day in a row he seen it a precise 6.46.

 

That sounded like an opportunity ! The boys and I really wanted to see a brown hyena. At this time you could say that brown hyena had moved up on our "wanted"list. We seen so many lions and cheetahs already, that a new species would be great. I only seen brown hyena once, and  that was back in 2003 in Etosha at night. So not great sighting. And the boys were really eager to see a brown hyena for the first time in their lives. A plan was in the making for the next day :)
We then went up the short dune road and stopped at Tierkop waterhole. Last time we saw the big herd of elands, but not this time. But we had a good sighting of 3 jackals pups who were playing in the sun. 

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We moved further north and stopped at Melkvlei picnic site. Didn´t see much until we spoke to couple from South Africa. It turned out he also was a big supporter of Tottenham Hotspurs, so we had a nice conservation about the club. After a few minutes he said " did you see the lions". It turned out that there was 2-3 lions lying in dunes. Even with binoculars they were hard to see, but still pretty nice. 

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The rest of the day was rather uneventful, except for a sighting of a ostrich with a lot of chickens.

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When we went to bed , we agreed to get up as early as possible. We wanted reach Kij Kij waterhole at around 6.00. The target was clear, we wanted to see a brown hyena. And after some days in the area, it seemed that Kij KIj was the most productive waterhole for sightings. 

 

 

Watching the sun go down after yet another day in the beautiful Kalahari .....

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xelas

Another great day in Kgalagadi! What best way to have a picnic if not with a view to lions.

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Ritsgaai

You had a most wonderful trip with over the top sightings and experiences,  @JayRon!!!

5 Stars to the photographer...he did great. :)

KTP is a very special place indeed.

 

We can only hope to have such great sightings in May next year when our youngest son with his family will join us. It will be their first visit to KTP. 

 

Thank you for you time and effort to share your trip and by the way....there is nothing wrong with your English...so, keep it coming. :D

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Peter Connan

Love the little Jackals and Tortoise!

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JayRon
12 hours ago, Ritsgaai said:

You had a most wonderful trip with over the top sightings and experiences,  @JayRon!!!

5 Stars to the photographer...he did great. :)

KTP is a very special place indeed.

 

We can only hope to have such great sightings in May next year when our youngest son with his family will join us. It will be their first visit to KTP. 

 

Thank you for you time and effort to share your trip and by the way....there is nothing wrong with your English...so, keep it coming. :D

 

Thank you @Ritsgaai We had the best trip. You are lucky that you will be heading to Kgalagadi in may, wish it was me :( 

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JayRon
2 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

Love the little Jackals and Tortoise!

 

Thank you @Peter Connan I know that this report mainly highlights the big stuff, but we really enjoyed the small stuff too. I think we watched the tortoise for a least 10 minutes :) 

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JayRon

8.1 Morning gamedrive to Kij Kij


So today we were ready for the hunt for the brown hyena. We were up at 5.00 and left precisely 5.30. We had the urge to leave before, but rules are rules and in my experience to many people try to bend them too much, like going offroad to get a better view, speed driving etc.

At Rooiputs no one will check you, so it is up to your own conscience. But luckily we found the most people obey the rules. Only thing was some dirty campsites. Anyway we waited till 5.30 and then left.  We were at Kij KIj at around 6.00 and then we waited.

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There was another car at the waterhole (it was the couple which we "saved" from the lion at Rooiputs) and at 6.27 they told us, that they could see 2 cheetahs a few hundreds meter away.We off course drove down to see them. They were walking next the road, and we could see them pretty good. They were walking away from waterhole, so we were getting further and further way from it. It was a good sighting.

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But at 6.35 the boys began complaining about the brown hyena. I mean the cheetahs were still  around and we could still follow them, so I was reluctant to drive away. But the boys insisted, so we turned around (even though I thought it was a bad idea). It turned out it was a very good idea!!

 

When we drove towards the waterhole, I spotted 3 jackals, but I could immediately see that there was something wrong with one of them.. It was not a jackal, but a caracal !!

And we came at just the right time (which was 6.46 :) ),  It was going for a drink at the waterhole. We then had the most spectacular sighting.  It was drinking a the waterhole for  a few minutes, before it slowly walked away. This caracal is the first we ever seen in the wild! IMG_2308.JPG.53a9a9dcff11770fba9c9a884e45fdfb.JPGIMG_2325.JPG.f46433a83623cc3b9502aa394124fdfb.JPGDSCN3733.JPG.c2e2e8e75edfe7beb913728052e278b7.JPGDSCN3736.JPG.03e84e55b3b4d387f169094f98af7750.JPGDSCN3742.JPG.5eb3891ef9aaa36505cd8921515cfe8e.JPGDSCN3745.JPG.dd2d02c2cf53f1dc11ea30d06a3ba671.JPGDSCN3751.JPG.b91718b9d82de370a1f1187fb9044227.JPG

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The jackal stayed well clear of the caracal.

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Just a thought about the caracal. This one was not really nervous especially compared to cheetahs. When cheetahs drink, they look around a lot and seems really nervous. This caracal looked around a couple of times, but seemed very relaxed, maybe he/she thought he was a lion??  And can anyone help me with identify if this one was a male or female? At that time I jjst thought it was a male, but I am not sure. DSCN3754.JPG.cdf1c2da89be9cf5744e98f82081ded9.JPG

 

 

Only problem was that for the rest of the day (or the trip) the boys bragged about how clever they were and it was because of them, that we saw it.. And they were right :) Never thought I would drive away from a good sighting of cheetahs. After the caracal went away, we stayed at Kij Kij until 8.30, but the brown hyena never came. But a caracal was so much better!!

The rest of the day was rather quiet. But yet again Kgalagadi had delivered something special (you can say that anyday in Kgalagadi is special).

 

We did take some pictures of oryx at the waterhole. I didn´t think about it at that time, but these oryx looks pretty thin 

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Getting ready for a sundowner.. I really like to have a fire in the evening, the only problem was that msst of the time I was alone. The others went to the tents as soon as it got dark. :rolleyes:

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Ritsgaai

Caracal!!! That is very, very special. You got spoiled for sure. :D:D

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