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As anticipated in my last trip report ( http://safaritalk.net/topic/14528-road-trip-2015-the-hunt-for-red-dune/ ) we have decided to return to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park even before we have exited it! Not a difficult decision; the park is awesome, with only a handful of cars driving around, and booking early gave us the opportunity to stay at several wilderness camps. In fact, we stayed at every wilderness camp but at Urikaruus.

 

As we have had plenty of time for preparations, we were adamant not to repeat our “food crisis diet”. Both @@penolva and @@Tdgraves were gracious and sent us their grocery lists. Zvezda did the final selection; I have rolled my eyes when I saw the final list but as a good husband (and the lousy cook from the last trip), I did not comment too loudly.

In retrospective: we have bought too much food! Specially meat portions in South Africa are double the size of European portions. And three times better! So we have indulged in "proteins mostly diet" this time.

 

One thing that we did not want to repeat was the long drive to, and specially from the Munchen airport. Thus the airline of our choice that flies from Ljubljana (with connection to JNB) was Turkish Airlines. The price was right, and the connecting times in Istanbul airport also not too bad. Easy decision here.

In retrospective: both flights were reasonably comfortable, the food was good, and they were both on time. We will fly Turkish Airlines more often.

 

Decision to fly from JNB to Upington was not so easy, but it proved to be an excellent one. It gave us two days in Johannesburg which we used to the maximum thanks to @@Peter Connan and his friend Marnus, and all members of their families.

 

Mrs.Gemma Dry from Discover Namibia was again our travel agent. Not that I am getting “soft” but really, her services were impeccable, so why not enjoy them also this time?!

 

The Itinerary:

 

29 Jan flight LJU-IST-JNB

30 Jan arrival JNB, overnight Jo’burg

31 Jan flight JNB-UPN, overnight Upington

01 Feb Nossob Camp

02 Feb Nossob Camp

03 Feb Grootkolk Wilderness Camp

04 Feb Gharagab Wilderness Camp

05 Feb Gharagab Wilderness Camp

06 Feb Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

07 Feb Kielikrankie Wilderness Camp

08 Feb Kielikrankie Wilderness Camp

09 Feb Kalahari Tented Camp

10 Feb Kalahari Tented Camp

11 Feb Kalahari tented Camp

12 Feb drive to Upington, overnight Upington

13 Feb flight UPN-JNB, overnight Jo’burg

14 Feb evening flight JNB-IST-LJU

 

Photo equipment (all Nikon):

Bodies: D610 and D7100

Lenses: 20mm f1.8, 24-120mm f4, 70-200mm f4, 300mm f4

Teleconverters: TC14II and TC17II

Gear strategy: to use TCs on both bodies all the time to enable lens switching and to prevent sensor dusting.

D610 + TC14 for best IQ

D7100 + TC17 for longest reach

SD cards to last 8000 shots without deleting any. Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG; JPEG is Zvezda's request as she wants to check out the photos each evening on her iPad. RAW were 12-bit lossless compressed, JPEG were Small with Medium compression.

I have discussed my options ad infinitum with @@Peter Connan; he was a great listener (OK, reader) and expert photographer and eventually I have decided for the above combinations. I was also very close to buying 200-500mm f5.6 zoom, but at last moment decided to skip it (this time around).

In retrospective: next time I will come with a 200-500 (or similar)!! We have switched lenses too many times. If not for the TC’s both sensors would be dirty by the mid of the trip! And it was not always easy to decide which focal length and which sensor (body) combination to use at a particular moment.

 

Self driving a Toyota Hilux 2.5D Double Cab supplied by Kalahari 4x4. It was equipped with a fridge and a cooler box. But boy, that were “professor fridge” and “professor cooler”!! Huge, they swallowed all our provisions with ease. Car and fridge worked flawlessly during entire trip. In the park tires were deflated to 1.4 bars.

 

It will be a long trip report! Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!

Edited by xelas
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michael-ibk

All buckled here, get going!

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Treepol

Ready for take-off, and looking forward to hearing about your latest Kgalagadi adventure!

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wilddog

Ready for take off when you are :)

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Towlersonsafari

Hurrah! looking forward to another KTG report!

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Got my popcorn ready and a cold beer on ice......Comfy chair........check

Let's go @xelas - bring it on.

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Galana

Strapped in! Skip the safety video. G&T to hand. No conflicting traffic. What's the delay?

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Wow, wow, wow!!!

 

@@michael-ibk , @@Treepol , @@bettel , @@wilddog , @@Zim Girl , @@Towlersonsafari , @@Hads , @@dlo , @@AndMic , @@Tdgraves , @@Tom Kellie , @@elefromoz , @@Galana

 

You have literally caught me off-guard! It is only the opening stage, and you have come in such numbers, with pop corn and G&T and ready for the show ... that's it ... lets start without further delays!

 

And Thank You all, Ladies and Gentlemen, for your interest in my humble trip report.

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30 January - Ouverture

 

We have arrived as planned to JNB airport. The immigration line was not too long but we were directed to one officer who had all complicated cases and we finished last of all from our airplane. Our two suitcases were the last one on the carousel, and we arrived just in time to prevent them being taken by the airport staff. 45 minutes from airplane to exit does not sound as much, but if outside someone is waiting for you, minutes does run very quickly! To our great relief, @@Peter Connan was still there, with our names on the card. Not that we would otherwise missed him, as I have printed out the photo of him taken on the occasion of @@Tom Kellie visit.

 

Our host for this, and last night, was Peter’s friend Marnus. He was a truck driver in Europe at one stage of his oh so interesting life, crossing through Slovenia a couple of times. He, his wife and two kids were fantastic hosts! Oh, they do have also two huskies. Very cute dogs.

 

After catching the breath (and rehydrating with a cold Windhoek) Peter drove us to nearby provincial park Rietvlei, where Zvezda and him were enjoying the birding, and me, I was enjoying the park.

 

Here they are, fully immersed in action

 

post-47185-0-76971400-1456418391_thumb.jpg

 

 

Birding was the main reason to visit this park. Below is the selection of best photos; birds ID courtesy of @@Peter Connan

 

Southern Red Bishop

post-47185-0-76747900-1456418372_thumb.jpg

 

Southern Masked Weaver

post-47185-0-06891200-1456418475_thumb.jpg

 

Ant-Eating Chat

post-47185-0-79702200-1456418493_thumb.jpg

 

Blacksmith Lapwing

post-47185-0-71905000-1456418508_thumb.jpg

 

Pied Starling

post-47185-0-21036800-1456418550_thumb.jpg

 

Cape Wagtail

post-47185-0-35604100-1456418563_thumb.jpg

 

African Stonechat

post-47185-0-75285700-1456418597_thumb.jpg

 

My favourite was the Malachite Kingfisher. There are many better photos of this gem of a bird already posted on Safaritalk yet, another one cannot hurt, yes ?!

 

post-47185-0-85222800-1456418532_thumb.jpg

 

 

And to all you birders out there, here is a homework for you. ID below bird

 

post-47185-0-01521700-1456418583_thumb.jpg

 

 

However prolific the birdlife was, also the mammals did show up in numbers. And on top of this, there were almost all "lifers" for us, and as @@Peter Connan showed us in his post, also one very rare animal!

 

OK, zebra is not a rare animal nor a lifer. This one was close and thus this portrait shot

 

post-47185-0-63036600-1456418406_thumb.jpg

 

Our lifers / first time sightings were:

 

​Waterbucks hiding in the patch of flowers

post-47185-0-42288800-1456418423_thumb.jpg

A family of White Rhinos

post-47185-0-55361100-1456418624_thumb.jpg

A Blesbuck

post-47185-0-97401300-1456418642_thumb.jpg

 

And the most neglected one (by myself, the uneducated safarista apprentice)

 

​Bush pig mother with piglets

post-47185-0-53723700-1456418459_thumb.jpg

 

 

We have stayed in the park right till the closing time. On our drive back, I did catch a quick nap, a trick learned by my ex-boss. It was a wise thing to do as the day did not end yet, as Marnus has prepared a braai evening! Peter came with his family, and there was one more family friends, and me, I was in charge of the fire (one has to start with basics). I have learned a couple of braai tricks:

How long does the fire burn? As long as there is wine (beer, …) in the fridge

How many steaks to braai? As many as the charcoal can handle

What kind of food can you braai? Any kind you have at hand

 

There were more but after a couple of specialty drinks Marnus has prepared for us (I do remember the “steenbok” was the name of one), I forgot the others.

It was already past midnight when we hit the bed; I have slept like a hardwood.

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Tom Kellie

post-49296-0-37997200-1456421470_thumb.jpg

~ @@xelas

 

Perhaps @@Peter Connan might know.

Could it possibly be a female Creatophora cinerea, Wattled Starling?

Thank you for posting such vivid images from your photography expedition upon arrival.

Lovely!

Tom K.

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@@xelas

 

Great start. The picture of the waterbucks is excellent.

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michael-ibk

The Waterbucks are a hit, love them! And how lucky to see the Bushpigs, fantastic. Really like the Weaver as well, interesting pose.

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A bushpig family is an epic sighting! Quite a few people I know have the bushpig in their rare 5! Cute little humbug babies too. :)

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Galana

A great start.

I see BBQ/Braai habits are the same the world over.

<How long does the fire burn?>

Our version is "when is it time to cook the meat?" After X bottles of red wine have been drunk. We call our fires by ratings "Two bottle" or "Four bottle"! Only then was the charcoal deemed hot enough!

 

Tom is correct with the mystery bird. Actually a juv. Wattled Starling.

 

But my good friend what about that alleged "Ant-eating Chat?"

 

What is it about Zebra photos? They always look so good!

 

Have I time to re-fill my glass?

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@@Game Warden , @@Gregor , @@Seniortraveller , @@Pennyanne , @@Big_Dog , @@africawild , @@Bush dog , welcome to the journey !! It is my privilege to share our memories with you.

 

@@Galana - no more beer (and no bear) for you ;) ; what kind of wine do you prefer? However @@Tom Kellie is the winner. Congratulations, Tom!

BTW what about that alleged Ant-eating Chat?? Is it that its beak is not black??

 

@@Game Warden - I only hope mrs.Connan will not put us Safaritalkers on black list :o !

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Treepol

@@xelas the photo of the Red Bishop is fantastic as are the waterbucks in the flowers. You have caught the masked weaver in an unusual pose.

 

How lucky to see a bush pig family, as bush pigs aren't all that easy to see.

 

Thanks for making a start to keep your many fans happy, look forward to more when you have time.

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Agree on the bush pig sighting. I heard screaming from someone's tent on the crater rim when someone was silly enough to leave food in there tent after being warned they would break into your tent, that's about as close as I've ever been to one.

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Peter Connan

A great start @@xelas, and it was a great pleasure to be involved even just a little bit in your trip!

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Great start @@xelas. I look forward to reading and learning about more inspiring places to visit.

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@@xelas - a great trip itinerary for us to follow; I agree that the waterbuck image is particularly striking as is the zebra portrait. You are another safari talker that makes me realize how much extra there is when you include birds! It took me three safaris to be able to tell a kudu from a nyala from a bushbuck so I am sure I have an equally challenging learning curve to come with birds (plus more books and of course a bigger lens!).

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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