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All creatures small and beautiful - Tswalu-Cape of Good Hope NP


Kitsafari
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michael-ibk

Another vote for the "sanded" Meerkat - too funny, a very stoic specimen. Tswalu looks so beautiful and quiet. Great Rhino sighting too!

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@@Kitsafari Lovely description and pictures. Tswalu looks like quite a laid back safari experience.

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@@Kitsafari, great Rhino sighting, can anyone look at a Rhino nowadays without getting a lump in their throat at the injustice of it all?

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Alexander33

@@Kitsafari

 

So glad you saw the female rhino and her calf -- very likely the same pair we had the privilege of spending an afternoon with last September. I'm thrilled they are doing well. The calf looks like she has certainly grown!

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Nice rhino sighting and beautiful scenery. Looks like your expedition was well worth it!

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@@Alexander33 I do believe they are the same duo you saw but the calf is big! looks somewhat like a teenager to me. :)

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Thanks everyone for the appreciation and yes that meerkat was really tolerant with its feet practically covered by its pal's house cleaning activities!

 

Adrian stops at every crossroad to check his map carefully. At one of these, he takes a slight turn off and we find ourselves on an overgrown track, an indication it is less used than the other routes. He seems confident as he drives on but Aril lets out a yell and we screech to a stop. a tiny bundle has dashed off the middle of the track into the side of the road. It is a tiny tiny scrub hare baby! and it has gone to the ground in an effort to hide. Adrian thinks it's lost its mother, I really do hope not. Thank goodness for Aril's sharp eyes, the baby does not get run over by us.

 

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After that wonderful brief moment (we didn't want to stress the tiny tot) with the baby, I feel the mood lifted another notch. It has been a long and quiet drive but it is all so chilled and relaxed. No must-list animal to cross out, no animal to chase, no rushing to places for a meal. The rest of the day becomes a long laid-back adventure that we all three want and share - like making little wonderful discoveries in our own secret garden, which we had all to ourselves.

 

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our little secret garden

 

Along the way, I turn to my right and out of the corner of my eye I see a flash of large grey creature running parallel to our vehicle. Aril sees it too and we say at the same second "Rhinos!" It is a mother and calf white rhino that have run from a thicket into a small clearing and then vanish into a woody area. We go off-road and drive into the bush but the pair has rapidly disappeared into the thick foliage. what great timing for us to be driving along at that same second.

 

 

 

 

 

a little further down, Aril's sharp eyes catch grey ghosts through the thick foliage and we start to follow three white adult rhinos. But they stick to the thick area and it is hard to see all three of them. we follow for a short while, they stop to look at us from a safe distance, then vanish further into the wooded area.

 

 

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It is past noon and oddly I do not feel hungry so Adrian suggests we drive back into Kalkpan and head west to Rogella to hit another landmark - the most westernly point of the section and then have lunch there. We are up for it.

 

So heading back north, Aril yells quite excitedly "Black wildebeests!" and Arian picks up speed as 3 wildebeests gallop past us in the distance. I've never seen blue wildebeests run that fast. I just see a blur of 3 black wildebeests gallop as fast as stallions with the white tails flashing as they run into a safe distance. They stop for a few seconds enough for me to use the binos to admire the rare (in Tswalu) and really beautiful looking antelopes. with a body that looks more like a horse and horns that look more like bulls', they don't resemble the blue wildebeests much. I don't regret I take the time to admire them without a camera but I do regret I have no picture to remind me of them.

 

Another surprise awaits us as we come close to a waterhole. Red hartebeests crowd round a blesbok and they all take off as soon as they hear the vehicle. Blesboks are also uncommon in Tswalu. It is a rewarding trip to the far south.

 

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Not the most flattering of pictures! but we were very satisfied and happy to have hit the landmark - the southernmost tip of Tswalu.

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I'm really enjoying this journey to unfamiliar territory and am loving your appreciation of all the small things that make up the bush.

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SafariChick

Love all the rhinos and the baby crying for and then lying down with her Mom especially! And the meerkat being covered with sand but not caring was awesome! That sentry really did look like it was up a tree which surprised me too.

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It is a long drive out of Tsamma to Rogella but we make it to a waterhole and unpack for lunch at 3pm. We scatter a group of springbok and warthogs and stop on a small ridge that divides the waterhole and another smaller one behind it. The larger waterhole surprisingly houses reeds but at the edge of it lies a zebra carcass. There are also carcasses of a zebra and an antelope at the small waterhole. It is a poignant reminder of how frail life can be - It had rained a couple of days before I arrived. Did that help fill the pools? DId the animals come to the waterhole earlier and found an empty hole, and found only dust and sand and, any tiny hope of water evaporated in the sun? did the weaker animals lie there, vainly hoping the rains would fall but fell to the ground dying in the relentless hot sun?

 

It may feel sad, yet, nature has its way to balance itself, and the weaker ones that can't survive die off, while the stronger ones survive to pass on their good genes to future generations. at least, that is how I rationalise it to comfort myself.

 

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The reed patch is a hive of activity with red bishops darting rapidly from reed to reed. My poor attempts to capture them failed miserably.

 

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red knobbed coot

 

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crowned lapwing?

 

 

 

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a leopard tortoise visits us

 

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further up three buffaloes graze - the only time I see cape buffaloes in Tswalu

 

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We wrap up our lunch and started to head back eastwards towards camp. A call comes in - a pangolin has been sighted! yay - a chance to finally see another jewel of Tswalu! it's a long drive to that spot so we indulged in a bit of safari ferrari.

 

along the way, Adrian brakes to a halt - 3 black rhinos in the distance - a mother, a young calf and an older calf. As we stop, they too stop. the older calf is nervous and runs back the way it came from. the mother and the younger calf follow and hide behind bushes. Further on the drive Adrian once again spots 2 adult rhinos speeding towards a waterhole. He makes to drive to the waterhole but I say Pangolin first! now who in the right mind will give up time for rhinos? I have seen 10 rhinos already, and under normal circumstances I will say let's go. but Pangolin! what if the jewel goes to ground and I don't see it?

 

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Adrian moves on and we see an eland or two standing to look at us, he pauses enough for me to snap the only one eland that isn't running away from us...

 

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but one became two then a group of five and then way ahead we see large herd thundering away in the dust. I watch in awe until Adrian snaps me out "good to get a picture" oh Ya. I am too slow and too late though. so just a couple of seconds of video....

 

 

 

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Peter Connan

What a really fun safari! Thank you.

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I've very reliably been informed that the "crowned lapwing" is actually a blacksmith lapwing. Sorry for the error. I find it hard to remember birds' names, let alone recognise them! so any help is so appreciated. :)

 

We are close to the pangolin sighting but there are a couple of cars ahead of us and a few people are on the ground. we stay away from the vicinity as it seems to be fairly crowded but later we find out that guests take turns to see the pangolin and it is all very orderly. At that moment though, we aren't sure how crowded it is and we are reluctant to add stress to the animal. Adrian decides to call in a big favour. There is a young pangolin researcher in Tswalu who has been tracking the animals for her research paper for 2 years. Just at that very moment, she's following one of her subjects - a young male. So off we go to join her and find him.

 

when we arrive, two other guests are with her. They seem to know Wendy well and had met up with her with her object of observation the previous evening. The sun is low when we find them but the ancient beast is at full gear foraging for its dinner.

 

 

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It stops a couple of times, listening – either to us whispering or for termites and ants in the barks of the trees or in the ground. Its claws are impressively long and sharp and it can move pretty fast, but not fast enough that humans can’t pick it up. We spend some magical moments with the ancient creature, and when the twilight grows deeper it is time to say goodbye to the magical dragon.

 

The light is too low for good shots but I take the time to simply watch it and enjoy it, basking in such privilege to see the ancient beast.

 

Edited by Kitsafari
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what a brilliantly wonderful day. I just had the most marvellous time, spending the entire day in the bush, learning things, seeing new species and new flora, opening my mind and heart to the wide space ahead of me, and totally completely shedding all tension and stress in the process. Adrian and I and Aril do not talk much during the drive, but in the silence I think we shared some sort of communal appreciation for Tswalu's , and really, Kalahari's little pearls of beauty. Adrian tells me later that when he completed a guiding job with a couple at Tswalu prior to guiding me, he had told his girlfriend that he was weary of the typical 3-hour game drive to see the normal things and he had hoped for an opportunity to do more expedition guiding I guess Kalahari heard him and granted him his wish in me.

 

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Tswalu's good evening for a most wondrous day

 

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michael-ibk

WOW! What a wonderful Pangolin sighting - and of course every Pangolin sighting is just awesome, so glad for you you were lucky with one of the Tswalu specials. Unfortunately your video is set on "private".

 

That´s a haunting image of the dead Zebra, and as always I greatly enjoy your storytelling which makes me feel like I´m right there.

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@@michael-ibk oops forgot to change the status. I've set it from private. thanks for alerting me. :)

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@@Kitsafari I have to say that nothing could encourage me more to visit Tswalu Kalahari than your photos of a pangolin. Part of the reason am looking forward to visit Tswalu Kalahari is that it is practically one of the places of seeing a pangolin as well as a caracal. Fortunately I have already seen an aardvark and meerkat. Ofcourse i know everything there in Tswalu Kalahari is beautiful and i cannot wait.

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@@Kitsafari

Great story telling - your writing is very poetic. It sounds like you had a wonderful day in the wilderness - I think soaking up the sounds and experience is an important part of such a trip - and too much talk takes you away from that.

And how wonderful that you saw a Pangolin - lovely photos and video!

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Peter Connan

What a magnificent day! Must be incredible seeing a Pangolin with a specialist present!

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@@optig @@michael-ibk @@TonyQ @@Peter Connan it was great to see the pangolin. i really enjoyed it and with the expert around to guide us too. She was so kind to let us join in.

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Alexander33

Oh, wow, @@Kitsafari, you saw one! The one creature that I went all the way to Tswalu to see -- and missed (that time :)). I am so, so happy for you, and your video is certainly a credible stand-in for the real thing.

 

It sounded like there was some kind of grunting noise periodically during the video. I get to ask the ignorant question now, since I've not seen one: was that the pangolin? Fair question in my estimation, because if I had shot that video, the grunting likely would have come from me -- hyperventilating. :)

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@@Alexander33 hahahaaa. u had me in stitches and I had to laugh silently since I'm now seated in the office with all the colleagues looking serious and staring wide-eyed at the pc (maybe they are also reading ST?).

 

The pangolin was the quietest of us. The whirring sound (annoying, I completely agree!) comes from my antique noisy camera even though I tried to put in to silent mode; the wind was blowing pretty strongly, the whispering came from the guests and guides behind me, and I don't really hear grunts but prob that' s me hyperventilating.

 

time for you to return to Tswalu and pangolin after Costa Rica!

Edited by Kitsafari
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@@Kitsafari I hope that your outstanding trip reports and photos will encourage your colleagues to go on safari. I'm sure that they love your photos and text and love to hear about all your experiences. I hope that you, your husband,your mother in law and of course your elderly dog have a wonderful week.

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