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South Africa Road Trip November 2018-Death, dying and the best sightings yet!


Towlersonsafari

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Towlersonsafari

after the wild cat  surprise-and in fact they quickly ran off into the long grass the next morning refusing to be photographed. We set off  over the short dune road to the nossob side nd quickly came across 5 hyena's-the biggest group we have seen in the KTP. They  wandered by our stationary vehicle without concern

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And the next moring, on our first drive along our favourite part of the KTP, we started as we emant to go on. Firstly this "Quiet Gentleman" And at Craig Lockhart water hole, four of these

Hello folks, We have just got back from a November trip to South Africa, with the main aims of visiting  the KTP, probably our favourite San Park, and Mountain Zebra, somewhere we have been once befor

We decidied to let the traffic day down, and then  were a bit disappointed  to find nothing at Craig Lockhart waterhole. As we slowly drove towards the next waterhole, around the corner came  

Towlersonsafari

And at another of our favourite waterholes, Kij Kij,  because it must have been nearly a day since we saw any, these, 

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3 females and 2 males, one of which appeared to have a nasty taste in his mouth. We were very lucky on this trip, if we had not been delayed by the wild Cats we might have set off earlier and never seen these as they soon wandered off into the dunes. on our first ever trip here we saw no lions, no cheetah but 6 leopards, on this trip there seemed to be lions everywhere and most not sleeping.Certainly in November the old adage of sightings being better early morning, and to a lessor extent late evening was true-it was often about 40 degrees by 12.00 though.

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Towlersonsafari

and to round off that mornings sightings, on the way towards Twee Rivieren, our best views of Cape Fox-there was a cub but it vanished down into its den

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Towlersonsafari

The caracal did not return that evening, but it was still a lovely way to spend time, on ones own slice of dunes! We did not go out that afternoon/evening just relaxed and reflected on a splendid trip so far.We did see some interesting Secretary bird behavour. although we saw quite a few, they were all very nervous, but this pair flew down to the killiekrankie waterhole and one began to -i assume-sunbath-i have never seen that before with these birds

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We did see kudu several times in the KTP but  not very many Hartebeest.On our last full day the most interesting sightings were a very young springbok

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And a very confiding immature Martial Eagle

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And later, a distant view of 2 cheetah's with the mother allowing its youngster to play with a very young springbok fawn.

 

We had  a brilliant time, and although it did seem a little busier, everyone save one vehicle seemed well behaved and respectful It  really is a beautiful place. Kalahari Tented camp is our favourite, but Nossob's new chalets  and Killiekrankie made a well balanced and wonderful start to our holiday.

So on to our next destination, and the longest drive of the trip.Could it hope to match the KTP well, i am very pleased to say it certainly did and I hope to explain why New Holme Guest Farm was such an amazing place, and the location for our second new mammal of the trip, a very small black footed mammal at that for those with the patience to read along!

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Peter Connan

Caracal on the hunt! Wow. And such a lovely sighting of the wildcat kittens!

 

Re the owl, I have never even seen a White-faced Owl, never mind a young one, so I really have no idea, but it certainly looks very different to the adults.

 

Would this be a black-footed cat you are alluding to?

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Towlersonsafari

The kittens and the caracal were wonderful sightins thank you @Peter Connan and yes, although we have no photos, we saw 4 black Footed Cats in one night drive!!! the views were best through binoculars but they were relaxed and either just stared a us or went about their business-you can imaine how happy we were, especially as we also saw -5 thins beginnin with Aa and 2 other things begining with Aa

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Towlersonsafari

New Holme Guest Farm

 

So we wanted to find somewhere that would get us from KTP to mountain Zebra   and Jane searched google maps.We wanted somewhere where we could stretch our les and relax and this pace offered birding, night drives and walking .It was a 3 hour drive to upinton with the added complication that whilst in the KTP a San parks ranger who was driving a Ford Ranger-there were a lot about-asked us what was wron with the bonnet-it , on inspection, did not fir flush and the bonnet catch did not work.Now we have only needed to lift the bonnet once in all the times we have hired a car but we were facing a long drive and so arraned to call in Bidvest Upinton on our way to New Holme.After breakfast at the local Mugg & Bean Bidvest very kindly swapped our Raner for a hilux-I have to say it semed much better made but how do you stop it beeping?!

The following 5 hour drive was easy-split between the  two of us. 

The farm is primarily a sheep farm, with some game, and the sekoi river a permenant source of water.It is off the Ni between Hanover and Colesber so attracts a lot of folk makin the trip bewten Cape Town and Joberg, bt Pc  is a passionate conservationist with big ideas.It was a pleasure to listen to him. Part of the farm is a nature reserve and part is given over to buffalo-he started a co-operative with some local woman and agin to hear  how and why was fascinating.

The food was some of the best we have ever eaten, anywhere

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Towlersonsafari

On An early morning pre-breakfast bird drive  we saw Blue Korhaan-a first for us, blue crane and a variety of larks-I noted Red Capped lark,Eastern clapper larkKaroo long billed lark and Spike Heeled lark-none of which I could identify on my own! the callin Blue Korhaan were the highlight though-sorry for the poor photo-

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apprently it was also unusuually hot here as well, and the August winds had only just arrived, so the rain was badly needed. We had ood views of greater and Rock kestrel

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In fact the Rock kestrel was also sitting close by.Jane attempted to photograph it without first puttin on her glasses-she was close-

This is honestly what she confessed to photographing instead-

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Towlersonsafari

We wnet for a walk ourselves after breakfast and saw pied avocets spoonbill namqua sandgrouse and karoo korhaan, to name a few, as well as Blue Cranes again

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And after sundowners at the aprt of the river weere he has attempted to re-introduce hippo-another fascinating tale we went on a night drive in atoyota game vehicle.We were very lucky, as the wind, that had been blowing for several days very strongly, suddenly died.When we saw out second only ever Aardvark, we went mad! Then an aardwolf, and another.In that drive we saw 5 Aardwolves, 2 Aardvarks-and even have some video footage-and 4 blackfooted cats! PC drove for about 3 hours and we were in heaven

Now this he said was a record.The enxt night the wind returned and we saw 1 aardwolf and a cape fox, but anyone looking for a fascinating time with a good chance to see Aardvark and Black footed cat, and enjoy delicious food, And listen to a passioante conservationist We would strongly recomend this place!

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Peter Connan

Wonderful night drive!

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What wonderful sightings you have had on this trip. And excellent photos with your new camera.

 

The Wildcat kittens are adorable- it is easy to see how humans took to cats and "Domesticated" them!

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Treepol

@Towlersonsafariwhat a wonderful AWC sighting, the kittens are adorable.

 

Blue Korhaan at New Holme is a very special sighting. 

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Towlersonsafari

Thank you @Peter Connan    and yes @Treepol it was great fun-we heard them, and have some video, of them calling.as you know south Africa is full f nooks and crannies that you just want to explore! and thank you 

@TonyQ whilst i will never be  up to the standard of many on this forum, i was very pleased with the camera.another advantage was the electronic viewfinder allowed me to see the view, for example, with exposure compensation added.The kittens were taken at 1600 iso so on the whole I did not think they were too bad! I did suggest that this was how wildcats were domesticated-getting used to neolithic cave painters trying to take their likeness!

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Towlersonsafari

the other interesting aspect of the farm was thta you could do a short walk-after a drive-to some rock etchings from the Khoi, and we also saw Boer war remains-British as the green gin glass drunk by officers was separate from the brown beer glass drunk by rank and file-you do wonder whatever the rights and wrongs, how the British empire ever came into being! There were also stone tools, and to pick them up and hold them gave a very good idea of how they were used

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an arthritic neolithic hunter gatherer getting reday for some scraping!

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Our host and I discuss who exactly has the silliest hat

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There were a lot of these-and Aardvark poo sees to be mostly dirt

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And so, in case I didnt mention it, we concluded a wonderful part of our trip.I could not resist boasting in a bare faced way that I have now seen as many Aardvarks as I have Pels fishing owls, and I would, and do, thoroughly recommend this place for 3 nights. i just need to work out how to take recognizable photos at night! 

Does a video clip have to be on youtube to be uploaded to this forum?

This section concludes with another vary rare type of wildlife-someone who would put up with me for 20 years!

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Towlersonsafari

Mountain Zebra National Park

 

And so to our last serious destination, and the new rock chalets which were very nice indeed, .not entirely "private" in that you could see some of the others, but so luxurious that you had thicker loo paper than the unusual San Parks  stuff! And our third new mammal .Our chalet came with its own Smiths Red Rock Rabbit-or so I hope @kittykat23ukt can confirm

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Dave Williams

The photos continue to be of the highest standard, nothing wrong with the Blue Korhaan ( cracking bird I have only just learnt exists!) We get far too obsessed with frame fillers but it's just as good to see them as you would through the human eye. As for the Rock Kestrel, well done Jane, hands down winner of "EBC of the Year" but not the much coveted "Every Bird Counts" I'm afraid, she stands alone as winner of "Every Brick Counts" Certainly made me smile.Thanks for sharing. 

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kittykat23uk
2 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

Mountain Zebra National Park

 

And so to our last serious destination, and the new rock chalets which were very nice indeed, .not entirely "private" in that you could see some of the others, but so luxurious that you had thicker loo paper than the unusual San Parks  stuff! And our third new mammal .Our chalet came with its own Smiths Red Rock Rabbit-or so I hope @kittykat23ukt can confirm

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Beautiful! Definitely a red rock rabbit and the distribution looks right for Smith's although mountain zebra national park also has Natal red rock rabbit listed.

https://www.sanparks.org/docs/parks_mountain_zebra/mammal-list.pdf

 

 

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Treepol

@Towlersonsafari which route did you follow to get from Upington to New Hanover? Sounds like an excellent 'shortcut' in this wide brown land (bit like Australia!)

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Ritsgaai

What a trip! Excellent sightings and I am really jealous. To see so many aardvark and aardwolf, not to mention Caracal! All very special. Thank you for sharing. 

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I really enjoy it when someone profiles a new wildlife destination and you’re certainly done that with New Holme! What a find 

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Towlersonsafari

Thank you very much @Treepol we went from Upington down the N10-a very straight well maintained road indeed-it helps that we both share the driving and we knew there were petrol stations along the way, and then a short way along the N1. In fact although we have a road map, the google maps lady is very helpful as well-although directions like "keep on the N10 for 200 km's are not ones we often have in the UK-they sound more like Australian ones!  and thank you @Ritsgaai  we were so impressed by your flower report that for my 60'th in 2020 , and as we may not be able to afford Zambia, we are thinking of plotting a route from New H  and thanks also @lmSA84olme to Nieuwoldtville ( 5 hours or so)! t really was a great and lucky find-and deserves to be better known!

Incidentally we stopped at Craddock the nearest twon to Mountain Zebra, to stock up and also to visit a splendid quirky coffee place True Living that had wonderful freshly baked bread, veggie flans and meat pies, and a wide variety of rusks to dip in the morning coffee.They even had pith helmets but sadly they were too small!

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@TowlersonsafariI can't wait to visit with fellow safaritalkers and perhaps friends.I just love your photographs and historical references.

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Towlersonsafari

Mountain Zebra is another wonderful pace, not necessarily for the sightings, although they are good, but the landscape is so beautiful. The winds that we encountered in New Holme were also here and indeed we "enjoyed" the coldest sunset drive we have ever had on our first night even with woolly hats and fleeces we were frozen. we wished our pre-ordered beers had been replaced with soup! Mountain Zebra is of course home to, well Mountain Zebra's

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Towlersonsafari

There is quite a few loops and some 4x4 tracks one of which-the easiest-we attempted inspite of the very friendly gate mans words when we asked him about it "don't go dont go we will have to rescue you!" It is also home to the wonderful Black Wildebeest, one of my favourite antelopes

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