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@FlyTraveler: highly appreciated you take time to read our TR, being busy with your own (excellent) one! Thanks also for kind words about photography. Landscapes and colours are amazing in Namibia.

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@@xelas

Post 89 - wow

The changing colours of the rocks, the birds - but that close-up of the tree bark I love it!

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@TonyQ: thanks; sometimes the most simple photos have a deep impact on the viewer.

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You just transported me back to Namtib Farmhouse. That photo with the soft candlelight showing dinner being served really depicts the warm atmosphere there. Gorgeous scenery leading up to your stop, even the one of you driving. Then night-night with the big sky.

 

Was there an Anatolian Shepherd Dog roaming around or any mention of one?

 

Thanks for the return to the lovely Namtib!

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@Atravelynn: there was a big hairy pig roaming around the grounds, but no Anatolian Shepherd dog; any special story connected to one?

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@@xelas

True!

 

(if you want to notify someone using the @Mention - it doesn't work if you put a symbol after it

 

So I think @@xelas will work

@xelas:will not work

Edited by TonyQ
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Mesosaurus Fossil Camp / http://www.mesosaurus.com

 

Quiver trees and dolerite rocks are star attractions of Keetmanshoop area. Most visitors head to Quiver Tree Forest Camp to have easy access to both Quiver Tree Forest and the Giant's Playground. We have decided to stay a bit farther afield, at Mesosaurus Fossil Camp. And the name already suggests what we were looking for there. And we were not disappointed.

 

But before arriving to this site we have had to buy provisions for our second week which we was inside Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. In all camps only at Twee Rivieren there is a restaurant. As my wife never cooks while on holidays, it was my job to keep us if not well fed than at least not hungry J.

 

Keetmanshoop is a big town, for Namibia. It has several gas stations and several markets. Our first task was to fed up the »camel«, the second to replenish the cash, and the third to find the Spar. My idea for next 6 days was simple; get into the market and buy enough canned food for those days. Simple to say but more difficult to execute. Because in the canned food section the selection was not what I have expected. Different type of food from what I can get in my local store. After the third loop around the store I have just gave up, and bought rice, a couple of curry vegetables and some viennese in tin can, plus cheese and salami. Plus water, juices and beer, of course. When Zvezda saw what (and how much) I have bought she just rolled up her eyes. Because the food I have carried in one only hand, and the drinks in the other. She mentioned sotto voce that it was never her idea to go on a strict diet while in Namibia but since she knew my answer she didn't pushed the issue further.

 

We arrived at the MFC at 15:00 and our guided tour with Giel Steenkamp started 30 minutes later. Giel is a funny and colourful character, and his style of explaining about »his« fossiles I really liked. He obviously has felt in love with his fossilised pets. The first fossil was found by his son Hendrik, a young boy back then, who plays around with rocks while his father was working on the road. The love affair changed Giel and also determined the way his family living afterwards.

 

We have started with a brief history lesson next to the grave of a young soldier, member of German Schutztruppen.

 

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Next was the main thing, a very well preserved fossil of the Mesosaurus tenuidens who lived in that area about 280 million years ago. Giel explained us many facts and datas, and some of them very scientific (which I have all forgotten) and others were fun and he makes us laugh a lot. Not bad for a »young fossil« as he described himself!

 

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There was a small amphiteatre like are where we have made our second, and last stop of the tour.

 

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Not only fossils but also quiver trees and dolerite rocks are part of this magical place. More than 5000 of this special plant are counted on his property. Different age, different shape, different size.

 

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A special guest was an impala grazing at the far end of the valley.

 

Common Impala

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Giel shared more of his vast knowledge, first about Aloe dichotoma/Kookerbaum/Quiver tree and then also about the dolerite rocks, and how and when all those amazing structures have been created by the mother Nature.

Finally, he played a song on this very unique instrument! This time it was a melody I have recognised quickly, "Frere Jacques" is the name I associate with the melody.

 

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After the concert he leaved us to wander around and to take as many photos as our cards can take. The sun low on the horizon makes for a very special soft yellow light.

 

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The dolerite rocks not only are musical but they are also in so many shapes that one can think they are sculptures; a couple sitting next to each other, or a man on the boat ...

 

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On the way back we have stopped again as the colours of the sky changed from deep cobalt blue to crimson red. What You See Is What We Saw!

 

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The bungalows at MFC are a bit smaller than others we have stayed this trip, but everything was there; a clean bathroom with a running water and warm shower, a firm bed, and outside there was a grill for those that would like to prepare their own food. Not us, we have opted for a dinner local style. As Hendrik was busy it was Giel's job to start the braai and to prepare yet another delicious dinner. We have shared stories with him and with the other couple that was overnighting at the place. We both knew it will be the last proper dinner for next 6 days so we enjoyed in it very much.


 

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michael-ibk

The fossils are fascinating, and fantastic photos as always - but I´m getting worried: Six days and all you plan to eat carrying in one hand? Starting to doubt here if your wife was still speaking "sotto voce" to you at the last "dinner". ;)

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@@michael-ibk

Ha, ha, ha, she was speaking a bit differently but that story I will tell you when on to the next chapter, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Just a hint: the main staple food was rice!

Now I need to find the Spar receipt; regulars to KTP otherwise would have doubts to believe my words.

Edited by xelas
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Conclusions on Part 1 of the trip

 

With mesosaurus fossiles, quiver trees and dolerite rocks we have concluded the first segment of our tour. South Namibia is as fascinating as is Damaraland, the vistas are incredibly scenic, and we were able to capture so many different colours we could never have immagined before hand.

 

It was a lot of moving around, sleeping each day at different place. Only when writting this trip report I have realised that we have exchanged an overnight at the working farm/b&b with an overnight at the lodge. While lodges were all comfortable, if not for their specific locations, I would rated the farms well above the lodges. The hosts were personal, the food was better, and even the comfort of the rooms was higher. I am sure many repeated visitors are staying only at farms, and I can totally get the idea. Not to forget the average rate at the farm is about 30% lower than in lodges.

 

On the road, on 5 legs between locations, we have covered 1115 kms and spent 25 hrs in the car. None of the drives were too long to become tiresome, or boring, or even dangerous for lacking of concentration. We did move around a lot because we wanted to check out all those places in the south, which usually are not among the first choices of the first time visitors to Namibia (except for Sossusvlei). We have missed Luderitz with Kolmanskoop, and that alone requires a return visit soon.

 

Although Part 2 was mainly Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and that one is run by South Africa (at least the camps we are staying at) I will continue my TR in this forum. We have entered and exited the park via Mata Mata so by the fact that the park is shared between three countries technically we have not leaved entered South Africa (or Botswana).

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@@xelas This is a great trip report. Absolutely stunning photos! I am looking forward to the rest especially since we are planning a trip to Kgalagadi and Namibia in 2016.

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@@Pennyanne

there are trip reports from Kgalagadi that are way better than anything I can supply (by penolva and by Tdgraves were the last two). Yet interesting enough, between the three of us we have covered 3 different months of Kgalagadi: Jan/Feb, March and April. It should be interesting to compare the wildlife sightings and the overall appearance of the park between our visits/reports.

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@@xelas

 

I have only read the first page but you're report last year was the final push I needed to get myself to Namibia. I was amazed to run into someone from Swakopmund on the Caprivi strip on my trip so a year apart definitely beats that. Enjoying what you've written so far and really jealous of the photos you've taken

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@dio

You must be just back from your trip! Looking forward to read about it, as Caprivi is where I still need to go.

Welcome to the "jealous photographers" club; it is a good thing to be jealous about others photographers work as that pushes yourself to make better one!

Edited by xelas
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From Mesosaurus Fossil Camp to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park / 220 kms, 4 hrs

 

 

I have totally forgotten to add this last post that belongs to the South Namibia / Part 1 of our trip report. Please excuse my "need for speed" to start the Kgalagadi / Part 2 :blink: !

 

 

No hurry to wake up and to leave the bed. At the same time we were sad to leave the fascinating landscapes of the south Namibia and excited to experience the wildlife of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

 

Driving towards Mata Mata was straightforward, signage on the roads easy to follow, and almost no wildlife to deter our concentration.

 

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Soon we have started to notice the rolling »waves« of sand dunes, and the sand started to get more red the more we have approached the park. We have entered into the Kalahari desert area!

 

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park / Kalahari Tented Camp (2 nights)

 

 

At Mata Mata entry gate there is only Namibian border office; I almost missed to stop at the right position as just a few 10 meters there is another gate, that of the park. Luckily nobody get excited when I reversed into the proper place. The officers were friendly however they did their job precisely. As we have got multiple entry Namibian visas (and same for South African ones) no questions were asked. I recon it was about 20 min in total.

 

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Next stop was in front of the park gate. The offices are close to the ramp. Also here the ladies were efficient and quick. They calculated the daily conservation fee and ... hit me with what I thought was an error. »3000 something rands please, Sir« I looked at them in bewilderment! That was all the cash in rand that we have had!! I admit, I have not done my homework regarding the entry/conservation fee for Kgalagadi. Last year in Etosha the total cost was 80 NAD per day per person, so really nothing to worry about. But in Kgalagadi the same is 267 ZAR per day per person!! When she saw my »eyes wide shut« she offered me a rescue rope: buy a Wild Card. It is valid for a couple, and for an entire year. And it was less than what we would have to pay for only our short stay. Since I still have not had enough cash to pay for it, it was time for the Treasurer of the Family to do her job i.e. to do some magic swipes with her credit card J ! We have not been as lucky as one other member of this forum, yet buying a Wild Card was a great move (to learn why, you will need to follow this TR till the very end)!

 

Our first two nights in the park we have stayed at the Kalahari Tented Camp. Just few kilometers away from Mata Mata (Mata Mata is also one of three larger camps in Kgalagadi), belongs to Wilderness Camps, have 15 tented cabins and only residents of the camp can drive to this camp (as is the rule also for all other Wilderness Camps). On arrival we have headed the »traffic paper« to the manager of the lodge, and he showed us to our cabin, telling us the rules of the camp and of the park.

 

As we were early we have taken a shower (and experienced our first »spa treatment« with soft salty water) and next we went out for our first game drive in magnificient Kgalagadi. Now that we have hunted the red dune, it was time to hunt for predators and raptors. The game driving from KTC follows the Auob riverbed. As already learned on our first trip to Africa, one should expect the unexpected. Like this view of green grass and yellow flowers under the blue sky dotted with white clouds! Pretty or kitschy?

 

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The first animal we saw was a known sighting.

 

Red Hartebeest

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And already the next one was a first timer, and what a colourful first timer.

 

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

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These gems can compete with LBR for the title of most coloured bird; only they are half the size and twice the speed of and average LBR and getting a good photo is all about patience (and luck).

 

Next two are again common sights that we have enjoyed much also in Etosha:

 

Black-backed Jackal

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Ostrich female and male

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Less than 60 minutes in the park and we have already have opportunity to take good photos of one of the birds from our wish list! Not bad, eh?! And next was already a trophy bird; a magnificent raptor was sitting in the branches of a dead tree.

 

Martial Eagle

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The drive continues, from one waterhole to another, with great light and interesting photo opportunities.

 

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

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Giraffa Camelopardalis

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Blue Wildebeest

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Springboks

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So much in only 2 hours, on our first drive, we were so happy to follow the leads given by Safaritalk members and their fantastic trip reports! Back at the camp, it was time for a couple of night time photos.

 

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Far away a storm was brewing and a combination of stars on the sky and lightnings in the distance was a another photographic challenge.

 

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Edited by xelas
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I'm strictly jealous of the skill and patience of this ability since I lack both. I gave up on this trip and did nothing but video leaving photos to the wife which are obviously great even if they weren't. They really are great though. :)

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@@xelas

 

 

Amazing! Thank you for taking me to a place I'v never been.....but have such ideas ~maybe one day!!

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Hey Alex, just finished reading your amazing TR -- oh my! It was so wonderful reliving Sossusvlei & Deadvlei thru your and Zvezdana's eyes.

 

Your photos are absolutely breathtaking and remind me of just how stunningly beautiful Namibia is. A photographer's dream that is for sure.

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michael-ibk

Wonderful introduction to the Kgalagadi, looking forward to your experiences there. Love the Bee-Eater! :)

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@@KathBC

Wonderful surprise, Kathee! Stay tuned as Kgalagadi is as fascinating as Etosha, only in a different way.

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Apr 25th - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park / Kalahari Tented Camp

 

Our full day of exploring the waterholes and wildlife in the Auob riverbed. Why the full day?? Because there was no lunch waiting for us at the cabin, so no need to return for a lunch break J!

 

As in Etosha, also in Kgalagadi we have used the excellent The Photographers Guide to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park by Jenny and Mario Fazekas.

 

After taking the photo of this lovely bird which has obviously had a long and sleepless night (maybe he was just off the »red eye« flight :blink: )

 

African Red-eyed Bulbul

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One way to »find« the wildlife is to follow the car with the biggest lens; or, as in the case of today, the one with something like »Aperture Wild« sticker on the car. I have noticed that car parked at an angle at the side of the road, and a big white lens focusing into a patch of green grass and yellow flowers. I was surprised to see that he might have interest in this Kori Bustard,

 

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but after moving into a suitable position we found his target … a cat playing a »cat and …..« game.

 

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Eventually the snake slided away, and also the cat seemed not to be bothered too much about loosing the prey. The wide grin on the pro's face and the word »Priceless!!« were a sure sign we have hit a jack pot sighting. The man was John Tinkler (Toby) as we found later from their FB page, and the cat was an African Wild Cat!

African Wild Cat

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African Wild Cat might be the smallest predator in the cat family but it is not easy to see one, and less so being engaged with a prey, and what a prey it was!

 

Between KTC and picnic site at Qamqua there are 6 waterholes, all of them offering some interesting wildlife sightings. Not all four-legged are big ones.

 

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Capped Wheatear

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Family photos are always well appreciated by audience.

 

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Crowned Lapwing (Plover)

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Sitting high on the tree and observing the territory was a White-backed Vulture

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and down below a group of young steenboks were having a »racing day«

 

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No proper safari photo trip report can go without a LBR photo

Lilac-breasted Roller

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This one is much less colourful; less colours more the problems with ID. A chat maybe??

 

xyz Chat (??)

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This group of alerted group squirrels have concluded the morning drive.

 

Always on alert

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No matter where in Africa, an LBR is a beauty. Love the cat and snake series :o

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Grreat capture on the wild cat pounce! They really do look so much like a domestic cat except for the larger body.

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@@xelas beautiful sequence with the AWC amongst the flowers.

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