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Simon & Jane's Excellent ( South African) Adventure


Towlersonsafari

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Towlersonsafari

 

Really like your mountain zebra photographs.

As I've never seen one, carefully looking at your images was interesting. They're unlike what I've seen in Kenya.

I had no idea what a ‘dassie’ might be.

Now I know. Thanks for introducing another wildlife term to me!

Tom K.

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One of the most intriguing encounters one can have in the KTP, is with the stationary vehicle. As you are spotting, looking for clues,for a twitch of the ear or a puff of dust, you suddenly see a stat

We have recently got back from a 3 week self-drive to South Africa, our 5th such trip and 12th overall, but our first since discovering the fun that is Safaritalk.Having read so many fine and differe

Some more photos of Namaqualand,

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elefromoz

@@Towlersonsafari, thanks for writing a report on places I've never even heard of! Had to get the map to see where you are.Forgive my dimness, I didn't even know "black" Wilderbeest existed, what an odd looking creature. Such a world to discover out there, trip reports make that easier and so enjoyable. Lovely Cheetah story, certainly did her bit for numbers.

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Towlersonsafari

Thank you @@elefromoz -as I type this I just got your forum name!! and thank you @@Tom Kellie. I was just looking at the splendid @@Tdgraves trip report on the KTP and yes, a non-stick frying pan is a must! The accommodation has a lot of very good and clean utensils, but never a frying pan.I think it is weighted heavily in favour of the braii of course with cast iron pots. As Jane is a veggie and I am a rubbish cook, we left the braii's well alone and feasted on a very fine diet of pasta,veggie stews and mashed potato with salads,olives crackers and cheese for during the day.With of course crisps and chocolate as essential back ups. Finally as a special treat custard, tinned fruit and cake all mixed into a lovely messy trifle.The best meal for sitting at a waterhole wondering if those lions are ever going to move! The Park consists of 2 roads following the 2 dry river beds from TR, the Auob and Nossob. The Auob road ends up at Mata Mata whilst the Nossob road goes park the eponymous camp and ends up at Unions End, the meeting point of 3 countries..The Nossob route has the reputation of more lion sightings-there is currently a big pride around Nossob camp apparently of about 24.We were certainly more Auob based, and we found it a more scenic route, the river bed is not as wide and you get a better appreciation of the dunes.2 connecting roads cross the dunes, and generally you don't see as much and the roads are in much worse condition, so that using them is an unpleasant experience, even with your properly deflated tyres.Most folk seemed to be in 4 x 4's but there were motorhomes, saloons and one brave Ford Fiesta.We met 3 guides on night or sunset drives, Robert, Ian and Dess and 2 said April May was the best time to visit, whilst the other said anytime was the best.It was chilly at night at first when we got there, with some cloudy skies and one overcast gloomy day, but it was certainly warming up.Dess thought that the Springboks were looking ready to give birth soon, and most of the game and wildlife looked in very good condition.We saw a lot of fine owls,

African Scops Owl

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Peal Spotted Owlet

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Barn Owl

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PSOwlet outside our chalet at Mata Mata

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Spotted Eagle Owl

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We also saw several Giant Eagle Owls, one pair on a nest.

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Towlersonsafari

And We saw some pussy cats, but alas no pea green boat.In fact Robert the guide mentioned the Wildcats liking for spending the day in trees, (and our rep who met us at Joberg -from Lawsons, told us to look in the forks of trees) and once we got our eye in, especially from Mata Mata, we had lovely sightings on day time wildcats.Also we saw 2 run and chase each other across the river bed-perhaps a mother and nearly adult youngster, perhaps a mating pair, and watched them for about 15 minutes for all the world like our own cats, but in a rather more hostile environment! I think we saw wildcats on every drive!

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I have no explanation as to why they look Ginger in the tress, yet on the ground and at night, they look their normal grey colour.They were a highlight of our trip.

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Towlersonsafari

 

Your post above includes more owls than I've seen in nearly 62 years!

Terrific sightings and great photographs.

I've liked owls all my life, but have only seen two — in a Lake Nakuru National Park forest and in a downed tree in flooded Lake Baringo.

Your African wild cats would be a highlight of any safari — so beautiful.

Really enjoying your various sightings. They take me away from my work desk to charming South Africa.

As I depart on my first-ever visit to South Africa in ten days, your trip report is intensifying my anticipation!

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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Towlersonsafari

Thank you again @@Tom Kellie, I am sure you will have a great time-your enthusiasm and kindness will ensure that! Can I ask where you are off to?-is it in the safari countdown?

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Tom Kellie

Thank you again @@Tom Kellie, I am sure you will have a great time-your enthusiasm and kindness will ensure that! Can I ask where you are off to?-is it in the safari countdown?

 

~ @@Towlersonsafari

 

Thank you so much for your very kind good wishes!

Due to the rather brief academic calendar vacation, there's only time for a single destination, then back home to work.

It's Leopard Hills.

The trip report of @@Tdgraves inspired me. Reading dozens of satisfied guest reports encouraged me. Learning that their chefs would accommodate my need for a soft diet clinched the deal.

It's all new to me. Anything or nothing will be OK with me. I'm happy enough being out and around in South Africa.

However, if a nyala happens to cross my path on any game drive, my shutter finger will be put to good use!

Your trip report, as that of @@hannahcat and @@Kitsafari, have been ramping up my anticipation for next week's departure — from Beijing to Hong Kong to Johannesburg to Leopard Hills.

This upcoming safari will be the next trip report, as my January, 2015 trip report is almost completed, with one game drive remaining to be described.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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@@Towlersonsafari

 

Wow great luck with all the owls, like Tom Kellie I had only seen a few but I would get 5 in my next four days of my trip but you have put my sightings to shame.

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie I think you'll be lucky to see a nyala, but you never know.....hope it all goes well!

 

~ @@Tdgraves

 

Thanks for letting me know the reality!

Ha! I'll be more than satisfied with whatever comes along.

Sometime within the next seven days I'll reread your Sabi Sands trip report, as much as anything to prime my consciousness for observing whatever's on the ground or in the trees.

As much as anything, this safari is about openness to experience. I'm in a frame of mind to be be aware and observe, accepting whatever appears or is absent as the character of the adventure.

To my great surprise, a former student was posted to South Africa as a software engineer for several months, returning with a gift for me — a thick illustrated guide to South African birds. I hope to have ample cause to put it to good use.

OK...no nyala or zorilla likely, but there may be something special that I'd never expect which will be one of my memories.

If I have even a fraction of the lovely sightings of @@Towlersonsafari, I'll count myself both fortunate and blessed!

Tom K.

Edited by Tom Kellie
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What a collection of owls! Any owl species is on my wish list for the future (I have seen some snowy owls here in the eastern US, but never any African species). The barn owl in the tree cavity is especially appealing.

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@@Towlersonsafari

 

What is "home made slashes"?? Or should I wait till the KTP part of your report?

 

The flowers are exquisite; so August is a good time to visit Cape Town and around?

 

I think you'll find it's home made SLUSHIES which are a crush ice drink.

 

EDIT:- Opp's looks like I skipped a page when replying. :rolleyes:

Edited by Big Andy
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Earthian

@@Towlersonsafari

I caught up with this post now.

Teachers pet indeed. I can almost see them glaring at you.

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@@Towlersonsafari

"very fine diet of pasta,veggie stews and mashed potato with salads,olives crackers and cheese for during the day" - my wife would join your dinner table every time; she didn't liked very much eating rice and canned veggies that I have cooked. But great news that using a braai in Kgalagadi is not mandatory. I have read about non-sticking frying pane, might become my best friend soon :) .

 

That was a nice assortment of owls you were able to photograph. And wildcats also.

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Towlersonsafari

Thank you @@Marks and @@xelas KTP is also very good for Birds of Prey -we saw Red Necked Falcon, lots of lanner falcon including 4 at once, a pygmy falcon, Black Chested Snake Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle and of course many fine sightings of Tawny and Martial Eagle, as well as Pale Chanting Goshawk. We saw 2 active nests where Tawny Eagles were practicing flying. The photo's are not great but here are a few, post-47279-0-86028200-1442953530_thumb.jpg

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Towlersonsafari

The Tawny Eagle's especially seemed everywhere.And a sighting we were proud ofwas seeing two Pale Chanting Goshawks on low bushes, then noticing a jackal and then, the bottom of a Honey Badger high up in the dunes digging for all it's worth! (Just like the guide books say). No even half decent pictures but the KTP is the only place we have seen them. We have also found, based on a very scientific sample of 3 trips to the KTP ( so of course not scientific at all) that Springboks are the best indicators of the possibility of predators-when they all stared in the same direction and the lead Springboks perhaps moved slightly as if getting a better look, or even almost stamped their feet a big cat was about. The real joy of seeing this and then seeing the cat somehow made the sighting even better. Gemsbok and Wildebeest just were not as reliable! From Mata Mata and the Kalahari Tented camp we would see big herds of springbok first thing in the morning and then as the sun became stronger they would either seek shelter or drift off into the dunes

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Edited by Towlersonsafari
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Towlersonsafari

We also saw Brants Whistling Rat-a Whistling rat, what's not to like?

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And our best view of a Purple Roller (we think it's a purple Roller)

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And you are not allowed to leave the KTP without taking a picture of a Gemsbok, Although the guidebooks tell you they can do without water,and of course they can, they do like to hang around water holes,and generally seem very protective of them.We saw Gemsbok physically stop other Gemsbok from getting to the water, as well as springbok , on many occasions.We also watched fascinated as about 20 Gemsbok had possession of a waterhole and 20 Gnu very slowly approach-we thought the gnu had no chance of getting to the water and indeed Gemsbok lowered their horns and advanced.But after about 10 minutes, first one then more Gnu's countered by lowering their horns and moving forward.We almost cheered when the Gemsbok gave way! Of course the Wildebeest then seem incapable of drinking without getting into the water and we almost changed sides!

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A young Gemsbok

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Towlersonsafari

One of the most intriguing encounters one can have in the KTP, is with the stationary vehicle. As you are spotting, looking for clues,for a twitch of the ear or a puff of dust, you suddenly see a stationary car, motionless on the side of the road.You slow down, stop a respectful distance.You don't want to spook it, or anger it in anyway.Both of you scan anxiously, what has distracted it from its journey? Quickly scan with binoculars! If that fails, scan the vehicle- what is it doing? Is it merely asleep or grooming in some way? Hopefully it is not engaged in a mating display or a territorial dispute.Slowly, oh so slowly you approach.Don't get in its way-if it is friendly-and they usually are- it will show you-and you must thank it quietly!

Actually you get to recognize faces, and , if you get to show off a sighting of your own,-look here is my lion, you can share-you get a lovely warm glow of pride.We had two sightings that we were particularly pleased with. At Dalkeith waterhole, the morning after some very sleepy lions, we went back to see if they were there, and instead found this-

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e were able to watch it for about 30 minutes whilst it plucked up courage to drink, and then ran off into the dunes.The second sighting was only for about 3 minutes.Driving to a waterhole on one of the dune roads, just on a whim, Jane suddenly saw something cross the road ahead.GO Go Go she shouted-and there, posing briefly so I could take a bad photo before slinking sinuously off into the landscape

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Towlersonsafari

Only our second sighting of either species.And both very special.We also had some very nice sightings of giraffe,which are usually found near Mata Mata.Any excuse for a selection of giraffe photos!

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Towlersonsafari

 

A Brown Hyena and a Caracal ?!?!?!

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lovely photos — terrific sighting!

Tom K.

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Towlersonsafari

We did see cheetah-both sightings on sunset drives, lit by spotlight.The second was a coalition of 4 males that I think @@ice saw earlier in the year. Each camp also had its favorite residents.At TR it was very confiding Yellow mongeese (mongooses?) and the 2 chalets we had came with bats or rather a bat they roost in the thatch. Jane was less keen on this than I was, and I wasn't that keen! Mata Mata had the owls and Kalahari Tented camp is known for hyena's and jackals in the riverbed. Nossob have a pair of jackals in camp which sat at a safe distance to see that you were eating, and were not impressed with our veggie diet. So we are coming to the end of our rather splendid holiday A final small selection of photo's and then a last post dealing with lions.They were not pretty.

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Seeing the brown hyena would make my day already ... but the caracal !!

 

The stationery vehicle is like a STOP sign; the bigger the lens sticking out of the window the better the sighting.

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Towlersonsafari

@dio KTP is the highlight of a South Africa trip. @@Marks and @@xelas the Brown hyena was a very nice sighting as we were able to spend quite a while with it. So before we end this trip report here are our "top tips" for the KTP. Feel free to disagree!

1. As Fred Pontin used to say "Book Early!" Ideally You do need to have someone ringing the moment-11 months-that it becomes possible to book if you want those wilderness camps.Don't rely on an email

2.But don't despair if you have to use the main camps-it is still the same park and still worth it.

3.Don't rely on the park shops-although they are a lot better than they used to be.Get your groceries at the Upington Pick and Pay!

4.And your non-stick frying pan!

5.Try a sunset drive with a park ranger. At about £10 per person it can be great fun and if it is quiet you get to have a good chat with the ranger whose only fault will be they have never even heard of Nottingham Forest, let alone support them. One guide even supported Arsenal, but I won't name him, that would be cruel.

6. Don't underestimate the time it takes to drive whilst spotting.And don't try to do too much

7.Take enough water to cook and make tea/brush teeth with. Its safe, but salty (now thats a catchphrase if ever I heard one!). Because of the mineral content it really is very unpleasant.

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