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


Kitsafari
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Alexander33

@@Kitsafari

 

So pangolin (twice), aardwolf, Cape fox and porcupine? None of which we saw. We did get the aardvark. So I think we need to go back to Tswalu together, and then we will have our bases fully covered. (Sounds like I'd be the beneficiary of that after what you managed to see).

Edited by Alexander33
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@@Kitsafari Please don't sell yourself short, I think you a great photographer and an even better writer.Thanks to you I have added the cape fox to my list of dream animals. I know that the aardvark sightings are better later in the year i.e August, September and October. Since I've only seen an aardvark once before, I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing more when I go to Tswalu Kalahari for a full 10 days next year. Considering I'll be traveling alone I love the idea of having dinner with my guide especially since my interest in Africa are far more than wildlife, birds and plants. I love talking about all aspects of Africa. Unfortunately, once I get talking about Africa-my favorite subject I can't shut up!!!!

 

Furthermore, I feel that once you get hooked on safari you'll be increasingly less interested in other types of travel. Don't worry Kit I doubt you will ever lose your interest of going on safari.

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Beautiful Pygmy Falcon shots - another Tswalu speciality? And then all the special speciality sightings - great stuff.

 

Lovely report.

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One of the reasons why I'm attracted to going to Tswalu Kalahari is that all guests are provided with their own guides and vehicles. Obviously, this makes it quite a bargain because many lodges in Botswana and elsewhere are charging outrageous rates for private vehicles. Previously I thought that $500 a day was simply too much but now, some lodges are even charging $1000 a day.

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@@TonyQ yes the aardvark was really special. such a brief one though, but I can't complain!

 

@@twaffle thanks so much for your encouragement and thanks for following along after all this time! the end is close. :)

 

@@mapumbo thank you for your support. I had 5 nights there, so yes I think I could have more night drives if I had insisted on it, although I wouldn't have asked for it after the full-day drives. The guide/driver and tracker would need to rest. Tswalu's package includes a private guide and a PV, that was one of its attractions for me.

 

@@Alexander33 somehow I have the impression you saw way more than I did! but totally agree we should pool our trips together to maximise our bases fully. I'd sure like to see aardvark and the black footed cat, which I didn't get to see.

 

@@optig thank you for your kind words! When I booked for May, I did think I might have been too early for the aardvark, but it had been seen in May the last two years so I was hopeful. But this year's May was still in the grip of El Nino which could have kept temperatures still too high for the aardvarks to come out.

 

@@pault thank you for liking the falcon shots - coming from you that's a big honour indeed! :)

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I've been gripped by the UK vote results on its membership in the EU the entire day and all its impact on the markets (there's carnage out there but I think it's settling down). I'm just stunned by the result. nationalism seems to be emerging around the world. is it a reaction to all the pluralism being pushed too much to people? Change is everywhere.

 

My OH says I should put up the video of the aardwolf to show that I did see one, not that anyone doubts me (at least I hope not!). Although I’m rather embarrassed by the awful quality of it, I'll heed his suggestion and put up a brief one. For me, it’s a good defensive strategy – no one will ever ask me to film anything! I used the bridge camera to tape and it kept focussing on the grasses!

 

 

Just two days ago, a posting that appeared on my FB page struck a chord, especially as I watched the shadowy aardwolf again. It was a quotation from Roald Dahl from his “Minpins” novel :

 

Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

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@@Kitsafari

Well done to OH for persuading you to put up the video - it shows what a good sighting it was (and yes we did believe you!) . A beautiful animal

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@@Kitsafari I love your video of the aardwolf because I've only been fortunate to see it once, and that was on a night drive in October 2015 at Saruni Samburu in the Kalama Concession. I realized just how lucky I was and I'd probably never see one ever again. Needless to say, I hope I get lucky again in Tswalu Kalahari.

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My last morning game drive is supposed to include a packed breakfast and a packed lunch. I’m all packed. I have to be at the airstrip for the flight to capetown at 2.45pm. Adrian has to leave with the 10am flight to Johannesburg so he’ll hand me over to Chris, a permanent guide. I decide to take the full morning drive to avoid the crowds and activities at the lodge which is a hive of activity preparing for some 50-plus guests assembled in Tswalu for a Brenthurst meeting that weekend. Since all the rooms have been set aside for them, no new guests had flown in, leaving myself as the one and only guest driving in the reserve that morning.

 

I want to soak in my last moments in Tswalu, to make them last, imprint them in my mind so that I can still savour - long after i come home - the wind on my face, the red sands on my shirt, the glowing sun on the horizon, the vastness of the land, and the hush quiet of the air, broken only by birds singing.

 

 

And, all the animals come out to say farewell. First the meerkats, then the giraffes, then the plains zebras, and then an assortment of Hartmann’s zebras, the plains zebras and the oryx interacting in the same spot, then the rhinos and, then, the lions.

 

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a rare tsesebee in Tswalu

 

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First the meerkats - I find them all lined up to exchange farewells with me

 

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Look to our right (some don't seem to know where right is)...

 

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then look to the left

 

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Look anywhere but at the humans

 

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a curious squatter

 

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Edited by Kitsafari
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a lone ostrich in the distance

 

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another female in another area...

 

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as we gatecrash into a Journey of Giraffes. I have to say I've not seen this large a group of giraffes before, and their gentleness and graceful slow movements rub off on us as we have to stop and take time to admire them.

 

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A tall dark handsome giraffe in close quarters

 

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@@Kitsafari I love your giraffe shots.No matter how many giraffes I see, I never get tired of them especially watching them walk.The scenery and the background is simply astonishing.

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a small herd of plains zebra with a foal in tag, come along, well, not to greet me but to quench their thirst. It's a small good photo op.

 

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another but smaller journey of scattered giraffes, one trying to hide rather bashfully behind a tree

 

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and what I am told is "salt of the tortoise" but I can't find anything on the google on this plant, I've probably heard wrong.

 

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and then it is time to say goodbye to Adrian who hands me over to another guide Chris.

 

I've learned the core spirit of safari from him, and I am most appreciative. (definitely not a wefie. :D )

 

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I always thought I had heard wrongly. Sociable weavers - really? but they are a pretty brownish bird and I suppose the name reflects the communal nests they build and constant chattering inside the nests they make.

 

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we chance upon a large gathering of Hartmann's zebras, plains zebras and oryx. Chris remarks interactions between the two zebra species is very unsual. Unfortunately, the trees block our view and getting a clear shot is just impossible. the Hartmann's zebras are a skittish lot.

 

 

Hartmann's zebras following an oryx

 

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you can just make out a plains zebra's bum on the right in the pix below

 

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as we go further along, a family of hartmann's on its way to the waterhole flees when it hears our vehicle. I feel very bad and hope they'll come down later for a drink.

 

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a ground squirrel is less nervous

 

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@@Kitsafari You couldn't look happier or more satisfied than you are on this photo. I hope when you go on safari with me you don't end up miserable and depressed. Furthermore, I hope that my non stop talking and my overly enthusiastic attitude towards all aspects of safari. I'm warning you long in advance. I know that you will be prepared for the worst. I'm also sure that you will find me terribly rude and obnoxious.

Edited by optig
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@@optig hey don't sell yourself short! well, I'm very quiet by nature so your talking will probably fill up the gaps. but I'm also fairly direct when I've had enough of something, but I'll prepare for the worst then. you still have a few months to brush up the gracious and really polite and nice person that I'm very sure is hiding inside you.

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@@Kitsafari I was just kidding you.I hope that you,your husband and your family have a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

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@@Kitsafari I was just kidding you.I hope that you,your husband and your family have a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

 

and i promptly fell for it. My OH has just landed in OMC and must be enjoying the bush. I'm excited for him! his first trip to Kenya. very pleased for him.

Edited by Kitsafari
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@@Kitsafari tell your OH if he is in Nairobi I'll be happy to meet him. If need be I can send you my numbers.

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We searched for lions as their tracks are everywhere. The search takes over two hours following the tracks, losing them, plunging off road into bushes, checking nearly every waterhole, back paddling tracks and going in circles. Finally, Chris brings us to the top of a hill, where both he and Aril go to the edge, and finally they spot the elusive lions resting in the shade. These are the North pride sub-adults, looking non too happy we disturb their rest and probably rather hungry too. it looks like the 3 female adults and the two male lions have left the sub adults to fend for themselves.

 

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The South pride put on an even striking display this morning. It’s after lunch or should I say breakfast (I'll clarify later), Aril spots them walking through the thick bush. The lions are hungry and it is clear that the female adult leading the pride is trying to hunt to feed at least 8 subadults. In the heat of the day, it is going to be challenging. Chris does a fine job trying to get ahead of them so that we can have a clear shot of them coming forward.

 

 

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taking a short rest at the waterhole

 

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the adult female flanked by male sub-adults

 

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and it is time to move off

 

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another rest, and a roadblock - not one that we can complain of. That's the adult female

 

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C

 

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come on lazybones, get a move on if you want to eat

 

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I may have come to Tswalu to seek out the small and beautiful creatures but the lions aren't going to let me leave without reminding me, in fact, emphasizing it with both north and south prides, that they are still the King of the Beasts.

 

A keepsake family portrait for all time

 

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I mentioned about lunch/breakfast earlier on. there was supposed to be a packed breakfast and a packed lunch. when Chris took over from Adrian, he hadn't realised I hadn't had breakfast yet. we spent time looking for the lions and I didn't want to break the momentum. So when he asked at past 12pm if we should stop for lunch, I told him we didn't even stop for breakfast, he was stunned.

 

so we stopped for the meal. but what he and Aril laid out looked more like breakfast - streaky bacon on skewers, mushrooms on skewers and hardboiled eggs. now that would have perfect for breakfast, but I was hoping for something more substantial for lunch. so i thought, they might have lunch at the airstrip, especially when after we trailed the south pride, Chris had made a not-too subtle nod of his head to Aril at before 2pm that it was time to go to the airstrip. we reached the airstrip at 2pm. there was nothing there, just beverages. And I had 45mins to kill just hanging around the airstrip. So when I left Tswalu, I left hungry and deeply disappointed that the lodge had let me down at the last minute.

 

But not the bush, the bush had put on the best farewell performances I've ever seen.

 

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I climb into the Pilatus PC12NG and as I fly over Tswalu’s huge reserve, I bid farewell to a gentle, delicate and magical land and to its dedicated team of protectors. I turn my head towards the nose of the plane, tucking my precious experiences and magical moments in my mind, and look towards the next stretch of my trip – Capetown, or more specifically Cape of Good Hope nature reserve.

Edited by Kitsafari
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The lions came to say goodbye and what a show they put on for you!

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@@Tdgraves they certainly did put on a spectacular goodbye. :)

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Forgot to add this little clip of the lions

 

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@@Kitsafari tell your OH if he is in Nairobi I'll be happy to meet him. If need be I can send you my numbers.

Dear @optiq i think he has planned for all the days. Ill let him know but thank you for your very kind offer.

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@@Kitsafari

Great photos of the lions - especially on that red track. Beautiful.

And I love the giraffe photos.

 

(The video is set to private)

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