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@@michael-ibk To answer your question nearly four weeks late, yes I am almost ready to get on the road. Quite some driving to do though, so it might be next week before I catch up with you! The start says "great trip".

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Kudu Pie, Springbock Stew and Kalahari Schnitzel


I have no idea how you managed to gain 5kg.


I've reached the Kalahari already and it has been a great journey so far. Beautiful scenes (well done Andreas!).

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@@michael-ibk have been following and really enjoying this trip with you. Some wonderful sightings. Love that honey badger look


Thank you, @@Panthera Pardus ! I think it was you in the first place who got so many of us interested in the Kalahari. We miss you and @Sharifa here on Safaritalk, surely you must have had many great trips and sightings in South Africa in the last year?


Corinne with her new cubs, wow. Saw her with her previous litter in 2014. I just hope the new family are around in September.


I hope you will see them, @@penolva . I remember your sighting of them, last day of the trip, wasn´t it? Thanks for the name.


That is a great night drive! Would love to see brown hyena some day.

Thanks, @@dlo . They are fascinating animals - I have become very interested in seeing them after reading "Cry of the Kalahari" by the Owens - a great book btw.



Hurrah @@michael-ibk patience and good manners rewarded! I do really love the san parks night drives-they really are such good value even in the most trying of circumstances! and @dio i am sure we have both agreed that our wives know best so you know what you have to do-arrange to go to the KTP immediately !


I agree wholeheartedly, @@Towlersonsafari , these things cost practically nothing, and they give you a perfect chance to see a different side to the parks.


That was one very productive night game drive, @@michael-ibk !. If only you would have a Nikon camera, with its fabulous dynamic range :P .

As for that natural-looking waterhole, I assume it is the one near Kij Kij waterhole, where you can park on a small hill above the pool, and is popular with photographers for BIF (falcons hunting)??


That is it, @@xelas , exactly, thank you. It´s a good thing I don´t even know what a "dynamic range" is, so I don´t miss it. :P


What a funny and productive night drive


Thanks, @@Patty !





Kgalagadi rocks, and you are making it come alive in this TR.


Thanks, @@Safaridude .





The dunes are majestic, what a colour! Meerkats and getting so close, wow. Spotted Eagle Owl shots are great. The socialable weaver nests are huge...I thought Hamerkop nests were big when compared to the size of the bird but those weaver nests are something else.

The cheetah and more cheetah including cubs and a brown hyena. This is just getting sickingly* good. Then add in your (and the secret lurker's) beautiful photography ....nope, not getting jealous at all


.....but - this also meant a lack of Big Cats. And let´s face it, ultimately we all want and need to see "big bad" predators on safari. Close. In good light. Hunting. On a kill. Or at least with cubs, I´m not very demanding.

Appears we have similar non demanding standards on safari


* I may have just made up a new word there!


P.S. Thanks for the welcome back wishes. Kenya was marvellous: beautiful landscapes and parks (Meru....wow!!!); top notch wildlife; great camps and with some interesting and interested, well informed and funny people.



Glad to hear you had a marvellous time, @@CaroleE , I hope it was sickeningly good, and I look forward to your report.


Love the description of the night drive and your initial reactions to the guide! But wow, did that drive pay off - what adorable cheetah cubs - and your hyena - yay!!


Thanks, @@SafariChick . I think at Twee Rivieren they actually will get quite a lot of people for whom everything IS new, it is the first station of every Kgalagadi trip after all. So I really can´t fault the guy for explaining everything.



I came upon this excellent report rather late ( holiday, just France and Spain, nothing interesting... ;)), but I've been reading it with great interest. Both for your beautiful photographs and your captivating stories! Love the Verreaux Eagle series and your vivid description of the Kgalagadi night drive. Well, and the Owl, Meerkats, Cheeta, Bontebok, Brown Hyena and so on....

Hadn't really given De Hoop any thoughts, but you make it sound ( and look) very attractive! Thanks for sharing all these images and experiences!


Thanks, @@PeterHG , and I disagree about France and Spain, especially since I saw your excellent pictures in the Big Year!


@@michael-ibk To answer your question nearly four weeks late, yes I am almost ready to get on the road. Quite some driving to do though, so it might be next week before I catch up with you! The start says "great trip".


Kudu Pie, Springbock Stew and Kalahari Schnitzel


I have no idea how you managed to gain 5kg.


I've reached the Kalahari already and it has been a great journey so far. Beautiful scenes (well done Andreas!).

Thanks, @@pault . I have the impression you don´t care much for Springbok Stew. Well, tell us how much you gained in your Europe trip. Applestrudel must have had some effect on you. :P

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On to Kgalagadi day 3!


Today we would drive up to the Mata Mata area, and thereby see the Auob valley - a 162 km drive. But first we wanted to see if Cheetah Mum and her cubs still were in the area, and so we took a quick peak into Nossob Valley. We did find them, but on the other (Botswana) side of the valley, up the dunes. We waited a bit hoping they would get down to the riverbed but instead they soon disappeared to the other side.




The first 10 or so km going North-West don´t actually follow the Auob riverbed but go through the dunes.




A Blacksmith Lapwing trio - another bird I had not really expected to find in the Kalahari.




My friend the Korhaan - these bold little birds just say "Kalahari" to me.






The valley. It´s much narrower than the Nossob riverbed, and that´s why people also call it "photographer´s delight". If something is happening you have very good chances to be quite close to the action.




It was a very cold morning - a Meerkat family was obviously a bit frosted and they tried to get warm in the first sunrays.




Also the Namaqua Doves seemd to welcome the sun.




Capped Wheatear




The road had been graded very recently and so was in perfect condition.

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A Springbok couple was intently gazing at the dunes, and Dantes was sure something had to be there - maybe a Leopard? We waited for quite a while to see what had gotten their attention. And Dantes was right - something was indeed there. But not a Leopard, it was the couple´s baby, and it then ran down from its hiding place like the wind to get to Mum. :)





And had breakfast.






A family reunited. :)


Then, for no discernible reason, they ran away. Maybe they just enjoyed running.





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We had a short stop at Auchterlonie, one of only two resting places with toilets all the way up to Mata Mata.




From up here one has a good look at the waterhole there.




Flock of Flock of Sandgrouse were coming in - hundreds, maybe thousands of them.






The Burchell´s species here.




A Kestrel was having breakfast - one of the many rodents that make the Kalahari such a raptor paradise.




A Swallow-Tailed Bee-Eater posing nicely in the sun for us.




Crimson-Breasted Shrike. We would see them a lot but getting photos of them is a different matter - they are hyperactive birds and mostly stay inside bushes.

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This Meerkat thing was getting out of hand now - we found another family, playing and foraging in the grass.



One of the adults was standing guards, while the kids had fun. Most of the time they were pretty much invisible, hidden under the long grass. But just once in a while they would get out for a moment or two.





One thing that surprised me about the Kgalagadi was the lack of Hornbills. This was our only Grey Hornbill. They are not that common a sight, but in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve Yellow-Billed Hornbills had been all over the place, and here we would see only two or three during the whole trip.



Lanner Falcon couple


We finally found our first Kalahari lions - but our timing sucked big time. Just when we got there they left and retreated into the dunes. :(



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red dunes, red moon, red meat and beer. these are the ingredients of happiness, and animals of course.

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It was already past 10:00 now, and we intended to have breakfast at Kamqua, the second picnic area in the Auob valley. But just before we reached the place we encountered a car queue - watching this scene:


What were these Wildebeest seeing there?



Not that easy to see in the shadow in the middle of the glaring light, but hidden there was a coalition of three Cheetah! :)



And they had killed a young Wildebeest - that would have been something to see!







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@@michael-ibk just catching up with your days in KTP. A cheetah and 4 cubs and the brown hyena was a great night drive combo.


KTP was generous with cheetah and meerkat sightings.

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the 5 cheetahs are wonderful. mother is the embodiment of elegance and beauty, she outshines the cuteness of her cubs.

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We watched the Cheetahs for quite a while, but when they went to sleep we left them to enjoy a late breakfast.


This is Kamqua. All the picnic areas pretty much look like this, a few tables and benches, and toilest which are accepptably clean.


I find it interesting that each of these picnic areas has different birds waiting for scaps - Cape Crow and Familiar Chat in this case.




We still had a long way to go to Kalahari Tented Camp, and it was already past noon.



The recent rains had made sure that many young animals were around - we were delighted to see Ostrich chicks a couple of times.





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We then had a very good sighting of one of my favourite birds - a Black-Shouldered Kite.










We saw them a lot in the Auob valley. Interestingly, absolutey none of them was to be found "just next door" in the Nossob valley.

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It was pretty quiet now, most animals had sought shelter in the shades. Only the Namaqua Doves never stop coming in to the waterhole.












I´m not quite sure what this is - any help?




Yellow Canary


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These Gemsbok were not actually drinking - but nibbling from the minerals at the edge of the water.








We had our first sighting of the ultimate safari bird - a Lilac-Breasted Roller. We´d see them a couple of times, but they don´t seem to be as common here as in so many other areas.




Many skidmarks next to a tree told us that people had tried to get a good angle to something hidden inside the tree - a Verreaux´s Eagle Owl.






Red-Headed Finch




This was our first Hoopoe sighting. They are my favourite bird, that´s why this shot is in here. We would never manage to get close to one this trip.




This Spotted Eagle-Owl apparently did not like us very much. :)


We finally arrived at Mata Mata at around 15:00. While Dantes was stocking up and refuelling I walked around a bit for birds. Not too much to be found, but this Cape Glossy Starling was posing very nicely in the sun.







Edited by michael-ibk
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We stayed at one of the Wilderness camps, Kalahari Tented Camp - just 3 km from Mata Mata, but what a difference from that busy place - an oasis of peace and tranquility, wonderful to stay at.




These were our cabins, kitchen to the left, and main tent to the right. We had a bit of a problem when checking in. There´s nobody there to welcome you, just some notes which cabin you have. Well, some people misread those, and had taken up residence in ours. That, or (as Dantes surmised) they just did not like the ones they had been allocated. Well, they soon gave in, but it was a bit of a nuisance. Someone from Mata Mata came over to clean up, and then we could finally settle in.





It was almost four now. We decided to just have a lazy afternoon for once, enjoy the scenery from the deck and have a few beers.







The tents are very nice, lots of space, clean, airy - the only downside: It was very cold at nights, down to zero degrees on our second morning! It was a good thing that lots of blankets were available. I probably would not want to stay here in the middle of winter.








Kitchen - each tent has a separate cabin. The camp is not fenced, but the single tents are - though it really would be no problem for an animal to get onto the deck, the wall there is not even a metre high. There are 10 units (I think), but you never really notice the others at all. When sitting on your deck you think it´s just just and the ones immediately left and right, they are quite cleverly arranged.


The waterhole, unfortunately, is a bit too far away for pictures.








It was Dantes´ start as a chef here, no more restaurants, he was doing the cooking, and he was doing a perfect job.




A pair of Jackals is living in camp, they always visit when people have dinner. As of now, they are not bold enough to really get on the decks and steal something - let´s hope that stays that way. At Mata Mata and Nossob they are a big nuisance and steal everything they can, with no fear whatsoever left of people.




They are not the only neighbours. :)





Edited by michael-ibk
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But our safari day was not finished. Mata Mata does not only offer a sunset drive but also a night drive going from 20:00 to about 22:00 (a bit longer in our case). Given our success yesterday we opted to do one of these again, and were looking forward to what Hwange´s night would bring us.




It started with a pleasant surprise. This is the car they are doing it with, and we were the only guests! :)


We saw many of the usual suspects, Hares, Springhares, Jackals, Steenbok and also some Bat-Eared Foxes.


















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The Kgalagadi is well-known as being one of the best places to see African Wild Cat. Though we tried hard and scanned trees all the time, we unfortunately could never find one during the day, but at least were compensated on this night drive with a very nice sighting - certainly our best one so far.













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And the most delightful surprise was that we saw no less than 7 ...




Cape Fox! This had been another target animal of mine.




We had seen one in Cammspannen, but from pretty far away, and the animals here were far more relaxed, even a bit curious about us.






Very cute animals!




They are the only true foxes in South Africa.







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And then, on the way "home", Kgalagadi had another nice surprise for us in store:



Two beautiful male lions were on patrol, and they would stay on or next to the road for almost two kilometres.


It felt a bit like they were escorting us. :)


We were very happy to see them. So far we had not had any proper lion sightings which had actually surprised us - we had pretty much taken lion sightings for granted. Well, not really, so this was a very welcome sight.



Both looked very healthy and strong.



Another very cool night drive - a perfect end to end this long day. :)



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Just all around excellent sightings and a great job you and @@xelas have done bringing Kgalagadi to life, looks like i'll add it to the list!

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park should be put high on your to-go list. Just be aware that Wilderness Camps booking has to be done 11 months in advance; you wait obe day and they are all gone ...

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Hi Michael it was our last day, you remember well! Six days with not a whisker and then that. Never forget it. Pen

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This continues to be a wonderful report.

Your conversion into a birder has really paid off in your photos of birds - they really are superb. The Swallow-tailed Bee-eater is wonderful.

The Meerkat in the grass, surrounded by the well lit grasses is also a favourite.


Looking at the picture of Dante's cooking - did you invite another 3 people over without telling us? :P


It looks like you had a wonderful night drive - I love the WIld Cat.

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Thanks, @@xyz99 , @@xelas , @@FlyTraveler , @@SafariChick , @@dlo , @@elefromoz , @@TonyQ , @@Kitsafari and @@Atravelynn .




Where are the painted faces shots?


Classified of course, Lynn. But I will tell you a secret - for just a second my painted face is right here in the report, hidden in plain sight ...don´t tell anybody!



This was a challenge I could not back down from. I had to find your painted face. I scrutinized all the penguins with their pink paint-like patches but did not find a good likeness. Then I found you. Post 27, video, about the 37th second.

Also, I had to check in here on your red, white, and blue report on the 4th of July!

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