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Kgalagadi and Mabuasehube selfdrive - The adventure of a lifetime


JayRon

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Awesome stuff @JayRon - well done to your sons finding the Caracal :D

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31. december New Years Day After just one night at Twee Rivieren we were scheduled for 4 nights at Kalahari Tented Camp (KTP). It was a favorite from our last visit in 2014. And it was also ni

Intro: After reading @wilddog post about  "where did all the trip reports go" I decided to give it a go. This is mainly because of three thing. The first is that I being trying to write one for t

5.1 Morning drive from Mata Mata towards Rooiputs   The Day of the Lion Rescue(just a little teaser  ) After having such great sightings in the Mata Mata area, we were excited about

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Towlersonsafari

lovely caracal  @JayRon

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Amazing Caracal in amazing Kgalagadi! And to top it, amazing photography, @JayRon. Even sitting in front of the display far away in cold Ljubljana I can feel the excitement.

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Peter Connan

Wow, what a morning!

 

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Great report @JayRon what a fantastic adventure you and your family have had.

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9.1 From Rooiputs to Nossob Morning gamedrive

 


After 4 great days at Rooiputs, we were a little sad to leave Rooiputs, but on  the other hand still very excited about going to stay a Nossob for 2 nights. We had talked to a lot of other tourist, who been at Nossob and the said they then seen a lot of lions in the area, but not much other than that.  But hey, we like lions ;) 
Going from Rooiputs towards Nossob we drove past the familiar waterholes like Kij Kij and Melkvlei searching for a brown hyena, but no luck. After Melkvlei we went into new territory going past Gunong, Kransbrak and Jan se Draai, but no special sightings. In fact I can´t really remember the waterholes, so I guess they didn´t make a big impression. But still very nice to see a new area. 


A finally, at Kaspersdrai waterhole we had luck!.  We spotted a brown hyena. The sighting was great and we spent quite some times looking at it. Only problem with the hyena was it acted like a lion, it didn´t do anything. Just slept in the shade. At one time it move a little, only to urinate, and then lay down in that same place. We found that a little strange, even though the boys found it very funny.

 

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While we were there, quite a few cars came and went. Most stay for a few minutes before they left. But one car took the first prize in odd behaviour. Normally people have the courtesy to smalltalk a little, but they just asked "Is there lions?". "No, its is brown hyena", we told rather ecxited.   They didn´t even answer and just raced on. They must have been on a lion mission or something, but to us it felt strange. We seen so many lions, but this was our first brownie and they didn´even look at it. Even if I am a big fan of big cats, I think you will miss out a lot, if you ignore almost anything else. 

 

I wonder what happend to the ears....

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The rest of the trip went fairly quiet and we reached Nossob around 12.00. There we were hit with a minor disaster. The pool was closed! Turned out that there wasn´t enough water in camp. On the bright side, they expected a watertank to arrive the next day, so maybe we could survive one day...:rolleyes: Instead I had a good sleep in the shade, whiile the boys played some cards.DSCN3945.JPG.25197209f0cbc06c344bebdd0407f9cc.JPG

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15 hours ago, JayRon said:

I wonder what happend to the ears....

I know persons chewing off their fingernails ...

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9.1 2019 Afternoon gamedrive going north from Nossob

 

After a good sleep, I talked to our "neighbours" at the campsite. Some nice germans, who told us,that exactly 5.6 km north of Nossob there was 3 cheetahs on a kill. We couldn´t miss them, because they were next to the road ... So of course we decided to go north. We found the cheetahs easily, since there was 3 cars parked next to them ;). And the germans were almost right, the cheetahs were not next to the road, they were on the road!! 

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We watched them for a long time, people were friendly and we took turns, so everybody got a good view. Again this was easy, since the cats were on the road. 

 

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The cheetahs had a kill behind the bushes and we had a difficult time figuring out what they killed. I thought it was a springbok, but the rest of the car thought hartebeest (which we had seen only one of, on the entire trip :) ). Later we heard it was a hartebeest, damn!

 

You can just glimpse the kill in the bush!

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So again the bragging rights went to the boys (and the wife, which was even worse :() But yet another great cheetah sighting...

 

After the sighting we went further north up to Qubitje Quap waterhole. Here we had another good sighting of a bateleur and we also saw some jackals on the remains of a wildebeest. We heard from another car, that the wildebeest had been killed by a large male lion 2 days earlier. He then stuffed himself for 2 days, before he departed.

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Back at Nossob we went the hide, which is famous for nightly visitors. This night is was very quiet, and we only saw a jackal at the waterhole. But again an awesome day in Kgalagadi with our first brown hyena and a great cheetah sighting. 

 

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19 minutes ago, xelas said:

I know persons chewing off their fingernails ...

 

ha ha..... I know that I giraffe can lick itself in the eye, so why not :rolleyes:

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Ritsgaai

I am still following along closely, @JayRon and enjoying every morsel. :rolleyes::P You were extremely lucky with an abundance of cheetah sightings... I've lost count! I can only hope to have half as many with our visit in May next year.  

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Peter Connan

This last was a lovely cheetah sighting!

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On 12/9/2019 at 6:09 AM, Ritsgaai said:

I am still following along closely, @JayRon and enjoying every morsel. :rolleyes::P You were extremely lucky with an abundance of cheetah sightings... I've lost count! I can only hope to have half as many with our visit in May next year.  

 

@Ritsgaai We were very very lucky. On this trip we saw so much more than we ever could have imagined. I would have settled for a third of the sightings ;)  But I will keep my fingers crossed for you for your may trip (especially if you write a trip report ;) )

On 12/9/2019 at 4:56 PM, Peter Connan said:

This last was a lovely cheetah sighting!

@Peter Connan You are right, we were again so lucky :) 

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Treepol

The diversity of your sightings is amazing, KTP is such a rewarding park to visit. Caracal and a Brown hyena are memorable sightings, especially as both animals seemed so relaxed. 

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10.1 2019 Gamedrives  from Nossob

 

We were up a little later than usual, which we soon regretted. For the first time on our entire trip we heard lions roaring(including Kruger) in the night.  I know it sounds absurd, but at this time ,we hadn´t heard a single lion roar during the night-  When I sleep, I sleep heavily, so I could easily have missed it, but my wife sleep very lightly, and she didn´t hear anything. But during the night there was a lot of loud roaring and pretty close. But we were tired and just went out at 6.30.

 

 

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We soon discovered that was a bad choice to sleep a little longer. We went down south, and soon found out, that we missed the entire Nossob pride of 11 lions. They were seen walking on the road a few kilometers south of Nossob. That was a shame, but a  We discussed it a litlle bit and then decided to drive north instead. 


Here we had a good sighting of a small group of bat-eared foxes. They had a den pretty close to the road so we had a good view, but they were still quiet difficult to photograph, but I think we managed a few good ones.

 

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We went pass the Quitje Quap(QQ) waterhole and then up to Kwang waterhole.  I really like the area around Kwang. The waterhole is one of the most popular, both with animals and tourists. We watched a group of wildebeest drink and after searching the area with the binoculars we could see a lone male lion in the shade of a tree. We waited for a while, but it never came to the waterhole. 

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Later in the day we spent some time in the hide at Nossob. Here we were entertained by a lot of birds. Lots of vultures and one of my favourite birds. The secretary-bird. A very remarkable bird...  

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It was far greener around Nossob than down south. 

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When it was almost dark, we could see a male lion walking towards the waterhole, but it stopped a few hundreds meter away and didn´t drink, when we were at the hide. 

 

 

We could only get a picture of the lion, because we had the nikon 900 with 2000 mm zoom. It was very far away.
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 11.1 2019 Morning gamedrive from Nossob to Polentswa


So today we were going into unfamiliar territory. We would again be camping on the Botswana side. This time at Polentswa. Polentswa only consist of 3 campsites. We would stay at campsite no.2 . Polentswa is around 60 km north of Nossob, with some great waterholes on the way. 


So up early again. No lions roaring through the night, so we decided going north. That turned out to be a good decision. A little north of Nossob there is a point called the Lookout Point, which is a great place for... You guessed it, to check out the surroundings. It is very close to rhe road, so we thought, we might as well check it out. When we reached the top, we could see, that 3 cheethas had the same idea. They looked a little bit, but apparently didn´t see anything of interest, so they moved into the bush. But yet again a good sighting of cheetahs. 

 

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A few kilometers north of Kwang my oldest son again saw something, this time it was a brown hyena. It moved quick, almost running, so we only got a few photos. But the time was only around 7.00, so  a great start to the day.

 

Only as proof, but we were excited :) 

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Only 20 minues later it was my turn! I spotted a brown hyena crossing the road in front of us. It was on it´s way to Bedinkt waterhole, so we had a long and beautiful sighting, while it was drinking at the waterhole. It was just amazing, And it really shows one of the ascpects of safari, that I sometimes love and sometimes hate. You never know what to expect. The first 12 days we seen one brown hyena and now we had 2 great sightings in just 30 minutes. Again the safari gods smiled at us.... 

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We reached Polentswa around 9.00 and found our campsite empty. I heard a lot about doublebookings and people hijacking the most popular campsites, but we never had any problems. You have to drive around 1 km on a pretty sandy road to get to Polentswa, so again it is only 4x4.

 

Polentswa is a great campsite with a beautiful over a pan- But it was very dry. so we only had a few wildebeest in the distance.

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As soon as we got out of our car, we were besieged by birds! They weren´t aggressive, but the came very close and made a lot of noise. Around the campsite we could see a lot of empty plastic bootles (which was turned into birdbath), so I took one and put a little water into it. That was what, they were waiting for. They all went direct for it. It did give me the chance to take some pictures of the birds drinking.
Just to make it clear, I/we never feed wild animals and always take out our garbage, so hyenas, jackals etc won´t get attracted to it. But it seems that most people don´t have any issues with putting water out for the birds. Any opinions??

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 After that I cleaned up the campsite. I think that there was at least 10 bottles, lying around the campsite, which I found turned the site into a mess. 

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Atravelynn

The caracal is a stunner!  And so cooperative.  I counted at least 29 ostrich chicks, two age groups!  Really like the lions in the distance in #51.  Nice job on the brown hyena and then the brown hyena again!  Very different appearances and facial expressions between the two. 

 

Those bottles are a shame, as you mention, but your bird photos focus on their brilliant colors, not the litter.  Thanks for the cleanup.

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And that second Brown Hyena is such a handsome chap! 

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Towlersonsafari

lovely Brown Hyena close up @JayRon   and the bird mobbing brings back memories of Grootkolk where we had a similar experience-perching on taps, drinking from the drips-the birds not us

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@Atravelynn Thank your for taking your time to read and comment my report :) We were so lucky with the caracal and the hyenas... 

 

@xelas You are right, I think the first brown hyena we saw in Kgalagadi looked scruffy and filthy, but that one was almost beautiful ;) 

 

@Towlersonsafari Thank you for your comment. And nice to hear it was not only the birds at Polentswa that was "strange". And you are lucky, I want to stay at Grootkolk sooner or later. But as long we are 4 people travelling together, that is out of the question.

 

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11.1 2019 Afternoon gamedrive

 

After we had a good rest we decided to drive a little north and check out some new waterholes. I really liked the waterhole at Polenstwa.  Since it is so far away from Nossob, you are almost guaranteed, that any sighting at the waterhole never will be crowded. We never saw more than one car at the waterhole. This time we only saw some wildebeest, before we drove further north.DSCN4314.JPG.eb6caa620fcf4193901fe3b77b067ff0.JPGDSCN4318.JPG.abf9d81794b3521a49db2cc943fbace4.JPG


Up north we stopped at Lijersdraai Picnic site, before we decided to drive south and check out the svimmingpool at Nossob. We did however spot a new species at the picnic spot. A snake in a tree. We stayed well clear of it.

 

If anyone have an idea what kind of snake this is, I will b very happy to hear. And especially if it is poisonous or not. DSCN4321.JPG.de2a44e02d2fb8d6c7a419bc78f86b20.JPG


Having relax at the pool at Nossob we drove up to Polentswa. Between Quitje Quap and Kwang we saw two cars driving very slowly towards us. That could only mean one thing! Big cats! It turned out it was 2 huge male lions and one female. I read somewhere that the ratio between male and female lions are problematic in Kgalagadi, since that it seems that there slightly more males than females. The problem is that the females can´t produce enough cubs to sustain the population. I hope we could get a better understanding of the issue, but so far I just enjoyed seeing so many big males(and females). 
One of the males walked just pass us, so we had to turn the car around, so we could follow. One of the males were limping, but still looked great. I later heard, that he was doing alright. Lions are tough ;). We took some photos, and left. We had to get to Polentswa before 19.30. An fantastic end to great day with sightings of lions, brown hyenas and cheetahs.

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We put up the tents and I started up a fire. Which I again were the only one to enjoy. The rest were in the tents. 

 

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I haven´t written about this earlier, but I brought a camera trap with us. I got the idea from a overland forum. Instead of just checking out the tracks in the sand in the morning, you check out the camera trap. I only used it at Rooiputs, but I forgot to take it down, before we took a morning gamedrive. So we ended up with around 300 pictures of birds. This time I put it a the a-frame pointing towards our fire and hoped for something exciting in the morning.

 

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Cheetah, 2 x Brown Hyena's and awesome sightings of the Big Male lions. What a Safari you are having @JayRon.

That lizard next to the snake on the tree must be nervous......

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adamt123

What an superb trip! :) I am very jealous of your brown hyenas - I am dying to see one when I am in Kgalagadi next year 

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On 12/18/2019 at 1:06 AM, Hads said:

Cheetah, 2 x Brown Hyena's and awesome sightings of the Big Male lions. What a Safari you are having @JayRon.

That lizard next to the snake on the tree must be nervous......

 

@Hads We had a excellent safari, our best ever... And thank you, I never noticed the lizard before ;) 

 

On 12/18/2019 at 11:28 PM, adamt123 said:

What an superb trip! :) I am very jealous of your brown hyenas - I am dying to see one when I am in Kgalagadi next year 

@adamt123 Thank you, and you might be jealous of the brown hyenas, but I am very jealous of you going to Kgalagadi :rolleyes:. May I ask when you are going and for how long?

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12.1 2019 Polentswa to Nossob and back again.


Woke up to the sound of hyenas calling (or whooping) really close. I respect all animals, but I am not really afraid of hyenas, but I don´t take any chances. They tend to stay well clear of humans and only come close to they tents, when you move away or go inside. I am much more afraid of baboons, but that is another story.. So I got out of the tent to have a look (it would be very different, if it was lions roaring close). The sound stopped before I got out, but while I was checking the campsite and surroundings, I saw (or spotted) two spotted hyenas walking through the campsites. They were a bit away from us, but they walked straight throug campsite no.1, which was occupied. Hope they saw them. In the distance we could see two other hyenas. It looked like they were heading for the Polentswa waterhole, so we packed up pretty quickly and drove to the waterhole.

Before we left I checked the camera trap, but there was nothing on it.

 

 

Spotting the hyenas walking through campsite no.1. Hope nobody was in the toilet :) 

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One of the hyenas had was carrying something. It looked like a big bone.989305668_DSCN4388_Moment2.jpg.791307b37af2a772bd42ad889b622316.jpgDSCN4388_Moment3.jpg.67a960bcf88e9f53ab0fa967dae6ced6.jpg

 

At campsite no.2 you have a really good view of the pan. We didn´t see a lot of animals, but had a herd of wildebeest grazing one evening. But it most be beautiful, when it is green.DSCN4388_Moment4.jpg.7e62f382d6ebd09bd80e00a5ccfa0e14.jpg

 

When we arrived at the waterhole, no sight of the hyenas.

 We decided to wait. It was a good choice, because 5 minutes later, we saw a hyena coming straight for the waterhole. We watched it for a long time and to some good pictures. It was the first time we saw spotted hyenas in Kgalagadi. The official count for predators, say that there more or less the same numbers of lions and spotted hyenas in Kgalagadi (around 375 hyeans and 450 lions, these numbers are estimates). but lions are much more easy to see. This was our only sighting of spotted hyena, so we enjoyed it.

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We also enjoyed our third sighting of red hartebeest. And again only one. This one wasn´t too happy about the hyena and was very alert. A little later a herd of wildebeest arrived and we too some time to admire them too. They had a few calves among them.

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The rest of the day was quiet. We drove to Nossob and spend some hours at the pool. I won´t bother you with pictures. All I can say that a svim in 40+ degrees was refreshing and very much needed. 
On the way from Nossob we saw some jackals on the remain of a kill. They were quite far away and we couldn´t really see what the kill was. There was also lots of vultures hoping for a share.

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Back at Polentswa we started a nice fire and had a good braai, while it was getting dark.  Again I set up the camera trap, hoping for better luck this night. 

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13.1 Polentswa to Unions End (and back to Nossob)
Started the day with checking the camera trap. This day there was something on it. First a visit from a blackbacked jackal, shortly after a cape fox. Later it the night the camera revealed a hyena and then a wildebeest. I was not surprised to see jackals or hyenas, but we failed to understand why a wildebeest would visit our campsite in the night. We got the explanation later, when we talked to a couple , who had camped at campsite no.3. 
They had a lot of action and commotion in the night. The wildebeest was attacked by the hyena, while it was in the campsite. The hyena had bitten the wildebeest on the side(near the ribs) and the wildebeest was bleeding vigorously after this. At one point the wildebeest had laid down in front of theirs caravan and they were really afraid, that it would be killed right there. The hyenas eventually backed of. Instead the wildebeest moved to the A-frame, were it laid down again. We saw the A-frame and it looked like a slaughterhouse. Blood everywhere...Then it all went silent and the wildebeest disappeared. After that the wildebeest must have gone over to ours campsite. And the hyena was of course following it. I think the hyena was just taking it´s time. It knew, that the wildebeest was weakening, so no need to use extra energy. Just be patience. If you see the pictures of the wildebeest from the camera trap, you can just see the wound on the side. What is quite amazing is how silent all the animals were. we didn´t hear a sound during the night.

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The hyena and you can just discern the wildebeest in the dark.

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You can see the wound on the side.IMAG0728.JPG.2c8c462a2fa0f1766bd6164de616cbdc.JPG

 

This might be a second hyena, which was following the scent (or blood)IMAG0729.JPG.96348914547f4d8eaa75efd75930a7dd.JPG

 

 

How Polentswa waterhole looked in the morning. Lots of bird, oryx and a jackal.DSCN4532.JPG.463368d0ff23398f248f8fe04f745f91.JPG

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After a that we decided to drive all the way up to Unions End. It was a long drive. It didn´t reveal a lot of sightings. But it was nice to see a part of the park, we didn´t see the last time, we were in Kgalagadi. The last 20-25 km before Unions End you could see, that this area of the park had got some good rain. It was much greener than the rest of the park, and we saw good numbers of springbooks and oryxes. We also saw a small herd of red hartebeest. DSCN4574.JPG.3c27ebeb9c42cc8e044d9960ea52a960.JPGDSCN4599-optimize.jpeg.ea8074f1564c70f074f05f02254c40b4.jpegDSCN4613.JPG.0a01d143aea08cc48aac016e8d6393bb.JPG

 

 

Finally some greenDSCN4616.JPG.92618b58f6f4e86f8f802745be8b5b30.JPGDSCN4617.JPG.e4efe2691dd7ee299e4061075b7224ac.JPG

 

 

Picnic-spot at Unions End.DSCN4619.JPG.6d97b42190c5e532a5840f5c53526e1d.JPGDSCN4621.JPG.2a366ea445f12daf8c388f47434dbfe6.JPG

 

Looking through my photos I found this one. Please correct me, but to me it look like Ludwigs Bustard.

 

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That was the first time we seen one of them.

 

At Quitje Quap we were entertained by some raptors.DSCN4624.JPG.7de2caf62312be05c3af319fcdee39af.JPGDSCN4627.JPG.b2b724a2e87aaa98b7c5638306e12211.JPGDSCN4630.JPG.942135e071b53f9a44fa189e3b11357b.JPGDSCN4492.JPG.be6b7e57a278cc985b6031efb2a3728b.JPGDSCN4499.JPG.fbd09affda7ad5aac947c3a3294dbd38.JPGDSCN4501.JPG.53a66948830ffad08ed72303de616be0.JPG

 


From Unions End we drove all the way to Nossob, where we would overnight. Next day would take us into unknow territory. The Botswana part of Kgalagadi, Mabuasehube.

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