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Bontebok and Blossoms—De Hoop and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, March 2022


Atravelynn
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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

It was the 300+ bontebok that attracted me to De Hoop Nature Reserve, a population far greater than the original 17 back in 1918.  I must have had about 300 bontebok sightings, with some likely repeats, resulting in 25 keeper-photos where bontebok starred as the subject, often with an equally impressive background.

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop and white sand dunes behind, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop with the white farm buildings behind, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

Lots of interesting activities at De Hoop (pronounced Da Whup to my ears) in addition to attractive antelope, all in a beautiful setting.  With no predators, guests could wander extensively around De Hoop looking for bontebok or whatever.

 

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Eland at De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Me walking on beach that we reached by car, 30 minutes from De Hoop lodging.

 

 

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Sand dunes De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

De Hoop means The Hope as in hope that crops will grow. The main farmhouse is at least 276 years old and there are several types of accommodations for guests surrounding the farmhouse, all very charming.

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Otter Suite #1 in De Hoop.

 

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Otter Suite #1 in De Hoop, viewed from boat cruise.

 

 

Blossoms in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) sprang to life from the biggest rains in 50 years that had started falling in Nov/Dec 2021. An astounding 50 mm (2 inches) fell in a single night while I was there.  The blossoms, along with hundreds of baby ostriches, swarming kaleidoscopes of butterfly and more awaited us.

 

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Devil’s Thorn enroute to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP).

 

 

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Devil’s Thorn enroute to KTP.

 

 

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Rock monitor and Devil’s Thorn, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Meerkat surrounded by Cat’s Tail on grounds of Mata Mata in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Butterflies (African Migrant) swarm in kaleidoscopes after the rain. Craig Lockhart Waterhole, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Ostrich chicks hatched by the hundreds during the abundant rains, Kgaalagadi.

 

 

There were some downsides to the extreme volume of rain. Vegetation was tall and abundant making animals hard to spot. Predator and prey also could disperse into the inaccessible dunes where water was plentiful from the rain.

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Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Me at Auchterlonie Waterhole picnic area, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Black-backed Jackal peeking through the  green grass in Kgalagadi.  The only jackals in the KTP are black-backed.

 

 

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Even the tall species could be obscured.  19 ostriches seen here, which pales in comparison to a flock of 42 ostriches seen later in the trip in the Kgalagadi.

 

 

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I relied more on seeing animals in the road, Kgalagadi.  Pair of Black-backed jackals.

 

 

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Sometimes the roads mimicked the Okavango Delta, to the delight of this pair of jackals, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Interesting submissive jackal behavior in the road, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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A few of the many, many baby ostriches ushered in by the rains, seen strolling along the road with their parents, Kgalagadi. Adult has a Gemsbok Cucumber in its beak.

 

 

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Roadside lion cub, inches from the vehicle and very comfortable hogging the road, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Snap quick before the jackal disappears!

 

 

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The grass could not hide this wildcat from Pieter’s sharp eyes.

 

 

The 50-year rains encouraged many local fans of the KTP to drop everything and head to Kgalagadi to experience this amazing phenomenon.  I ran into some of these folks and we all experienced the desert landscape in its Ireland-like state.

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Emerald Kgalagadi looking like Ireland.

 

Despite the surge of visitors hoping to see the Kgalagadi in its wet and verdant splendor, we came across very few vehicles on the roads. We were relieved to encounter some friendly fellow travelers when we found ourselves halted by a puncture, resulting from a 14-member lion pride attack on the unoccupied vehicle the previous night.

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Road in Kgalagadi.  I should have packed water skis.

 

 

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Little yellow Mouse Whiskers along the road in Kgalagadi.

 

 

Originally booked for March-April of 2020, this was my third attempt at this De Hoop and KTP itinerary. Wayne of Take2Tours and Annekie of Catz Tours & Safaris who arranged Kalahari Safaris with guide Pieter Hanekom were flexible and accommodating throughout all the cancellations and reschedulings. I lost no money and paid only a slight increase in prices due to inflation that occurred over 2 years. Finally, it was a go and worth the wait.

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Thunderbolt Flower on Mata Mata grounds in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Young Pale Chanting Goshawk doing a rain dance at Nossob hide/waterhole, hours before 2 inches of rain fell in one night. KTP.

 

To be continued

Edited by Atravelynn
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Been looking forward to this report, Lynn …. 

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Wow! I'm loving. your report. Sounds like a wonderful trip. I especially like the ostrich chicks and the butterlies! And the bontebok are so distinctive looking. 

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Posted (edited)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

Itinerary:  De Hoop & Cape in blue  KTP in green

 

Accolades for Agents and Operators

 

Warning:  Changing Money Upon Arrival at Cape Town International

 

Covid Stuff

 

The Adapter

 

De Hoop and the Western Cape

 

Quote of the Trip in Recipe Form

 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with a few Tales and Kgalagadi Lore interspersed, compliments of Pieter Hanekom

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Yellow Mongoose on Mata Mata grounds in Kgalagadi, morning.

 

 

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Lanner Falcon in KTP.

 

 

Itinerary

 

2022

 

28 Feb Depart Chicago on British Air, 8:35 pm

 

01 Mar Transfer through Heathrow

 

02 Mar Arrive Cape Town International Airport, transfer to Cape Verde Hotel, 5 minutes away, by Wayne of Take2Tours for an early 10 am checkin. Cape Verde also has a shuttle. O/nt Cape Verde

 

03 Mar Cape Town to De Hoop Nature Reserve with Wayne of Take2Tours 9:00-4:00pm, 3.5 hrs driving, 3.5 hours of stops, including 1 hour at Cape Agulhas. O/nt De Hoop Otter Suite 1

 

04 Mar  O/nt De Hoop Otter Suite 1

 

05  Mar  O/nt De Hoop Otter Suite 1

 

06 Mar  De Hoop to Hermanus with Wayne of Take2Tours, stopping for coffee breaks, etc. 8:30-11:15 am; Walk around Hermanus 11:15-noon; Hermanus to Betty Bay noon-1:00 pm; At Betty Bay to look at penguins 1:00 pm-2:10 pm; Betty Bay to Harold Porter National Botanical Garden next door 2:10-2:15 pm; Walk through Harold Porter Garden, 2:20 pm-3:10 pm; Harold Porter Garden to Cape Verde Hotel, 3:15-4:30 pm. O/nt Cape Verde in Cape Town near airport

 

07 Mar  Wayne of Take2Tours transferred me from Cape Verde to the airport, 5 minutes, away at 5:15 am for a 6:45 am South African Airlink departure.  Cape Verde does have an airport shuttle.  Arrive Upington at 8:05 am.

 

Departed for Kgalagadi with Pieter Hanekom of Kalahari Safaris 8:20 am, 30- minute stop in Ashkram, couple photo stops for blossoms, arrival at Two Rivers entrance, noon. O/nt Twee Rivieren, standard chalet in KTP

 

08 Mar O/nt Mata Mata, riverview chalet in KTP

 

09 Mar O/nt Kalahari tented camp in KTP

 

10 Mar O/nt Nossob rest camp, standard chalet in KTP

 

11-12 Mar O/nt Gharagab Wilderness camp in KTP

 

13-14 Mar O/nt Nossob rest camp, standard chalet in KTP

 

15-16 Mar O/nt Twee Rivieren, standard chalet in KTP

 

17 Mar Morning in KTP until 11:00 am, then to Three Gables B&B in Upington, stopping at Kgalagadi Lifestyle Lodge for takeaway lunch, arriving 2:00 pm. 

 

18 Mar Three Gables owner transferred me to the Upington International Airport, 15 minutes away, at 6:30 am for the 8:30 am South Africa Airlink flight to Cape Town.  Arrive Cape Town 9:50 am.  David, a colleague of Wayne of Take2Tours, met me and helped with the in-airport Covid test needed to get into the US. Drive to Cape Town Waterfront, 10:30 am-11:00 am. At Cape Town Waterfront, including the aquarium, 11:00 am-1:45 pm. David drove from the Waterfront to Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden 1:45 pm-2:40 pm.  Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden & on-site refreshments 3:00 pm-4:30 pm.  Return to airport 4:30 pm-5:15 pm for 9:15 pm flight on BA.

 

19 Mar Transfer through Heathrow and arrive Chicago 3 pm.

 

 

I had originally requested a different KTP itinerary, which did not have all those 1-night stays.  But you take what you can get.  We were able to make one change to the itinerary when we first arrived at the Two Rivers Gate to reduce what was a long, long one-day drive from Kahalari Tented Camp to Gharagab. We switched to a Kahalari Tented Camp – Nossob – Gharagab sequence over two days.  That actually gave us yet another 1-night stay, but it was worth it to eliminate what Pieter had labeled “The Mother of All Drives.”

 

 

@michael-ibk and @AndMic did a similar trip several years ago, linked here.

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Meerkat on grounds of Mata Mata in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Frisky Mountain Zebra at De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

Accolades to Agents and Operators

 

This was Trip #3 with Take2Tours, operated since 1998 by Wayne Milne in Cape Town and around the Cape.  It was booked in June of 2019 and throughout the two years of covid, Wayne kept in touch and kept cancelling and re-booking and managed a nice deal for me at De Hoop. Wayne is delightful and we had a great time in De Hoop, plus there and back. I also very much enjoyed his colleague David for a day around Cape Town. For anything in or around the Cape, I’d go with Take2Tours. 

 

 

I wanted to add the KTP to De Hoop so in the planning stage I asked Wayne who I should use since Take2Tours does not guide the KTP.  He referred me to Annekie Zeiler of Catz Tours & Safaris in Johannesburg.  Annekie kept me posted on reservations which are notoriously difficult to get in KTP. The itinerary shifted dates three times since 2019, along with some minor changes in accommodations. Throughout it all, I was very happy with Catz Safaris, especially the guide they arranged for the KTP.

 

 

That guide is Pieter Hanekom, owner of Kalahari Safaris.  Pieter is a dynamo, ready to go when the gates open and coming back when they close, plus preparing and cleaning up from all meals.  Of course, I helped out a little with meals and chores, though not with the actual cooking. Pieter made sure our schedule was what I wanted. Very accommodating!  Pieter had excellent spotting skills and amazing Kalahari tales, some of which I’ll recount during my days with him; and there will be a new tale based on events that happened during our trip that he assured me will be told, perhaps with a few mythical embellishments.  Hopefully I can see the Kgalagadi some day in a state of drought to complement the lush conditions on this trip, and when I do, Kalahari Safaris is who I’ll call.

 

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Betty Bay along the Cape, African Penguins

 

 

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Black backed Jackal at Cubitje Quap in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Yellow Mongoose on grounds of Mata Mata, morning.

 

Warning

The money changing station by all the baggage claim carousels at Cape Town International Airport charges 30%.  Yes, 30%.  That’s truly a scam operation and should not be allowed. After exiting baggage claim there is another money changing station that charged me a small fixed fee and 2%.

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Young Martial Eagle in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Yellow Mongoose on grounds of Mata Mata in Kgalagadi, morning.

 

 

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African Monarch on grounds of Twee Rivieren

 

 

Covid Stuff

 

Since rules and requirements are changing fast, my experience may no longer be relevant.  I’m happy to answer any questions if you PM me. All guides had been vaccinated.  Many types of covid testing were available right at the Cape Town International Airport.  www.navomixhealth.co.za  Best to make an appointment in advance.

 

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Swallowtail Bee-eater on grounds of Nossob Rest Camp in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Yellow Mongoose on grounds of Mata Mata in Kgalagadi, morning.

 

 

The Adapter for South Africa is M-type

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The wall outlet in Upington accepts the M-type plug.  The white M-type adapter is mine and I used it during this South Africa trip.  The black plug is for a coffee pot on site. 

 

KTP charging opportunities where I stayed:

Twee Riverien—charging available 24 hours/day

Mata Mata—no charging at night from about 10 pm to 5 am

Kalahari Tented Camp—no charging at this camp

Nossob rest camp—no charging at night from about 10 pm to 5 am

Gharagab Wilderness Camp—no charging at this camp

 

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Meerkats on grounds of Mata Mata, viewed from my riverfront chalet.

 

 

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Sheep’s pea in Kgalagdi.

 

 

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Red-headed Finch, male, at the Nossob hide/waterhole.

 

 

Next is 4 days/3 nights at De Hoop Nature Reserve

Edited by Atravelynn
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50 minutes ago, madaboutcheetah said:

Been looking forward to this report, Lynn …. 

Thanks, my goal was to start the report within 60 days of returning home.  I made it with 5 days to spare.

20 minutes ago, mtanenbaum said:

Wow! I'm loving. your report. Thank you. Sounds like a wonderful trip. I especially like the ostrich chicks  I could have used an ostrich wrangler for the big broods of chicks at times.  and the butterlies! And the bontebok are so distinctive looking.  It was those bontebok that got this whole trip started.

 

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I've been watching your gallery uploads and waiting for this TR, De Hoop is somewhere I would like to return and KTP too. I can't imagine KTP having so much rainfall in a single night, the desert must surely be blooming this autumn.

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Beautiful photographs, you were lucky with those posing stokstaartjes aka meerkats. I have only managed to see them running away.

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A great start, beautiful photos and very helpful practical details (as we have come to expect!)

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Excellent- the green Kalahari. One small point Lynn, your falcon is a Lanner.

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Posted (edited)

Great start...to the long awaited trip report!

 

Each time you have added images to an album it has been showing in the news feed! :D

Edited by Alex The Lion
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Thanks for this report and photos. I especially liked the info on the plugs to use...I purchased a M plug for my trip in September to Kruger National Park. I am hoping that getting money in Johannesburg ...I will try to avoid the airport scams.

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12 hours ago, Treepol said:

I've been watching your gallery uploads and waiting for this TR, De Hoop is somewhere I would like to return and KTP too. I can't imagine KTP having so much rainfall in a single night, the desert must surely be blooming this autumn.

 

7 hours ago, Biko said:

Beautiful photographs, you were lucky with those posing stokstaartjes aka meerkats. I have only managed to see them running away.  They did that too.  Since this troop lived on the grounds of Mata Mata, they are less likely to run away.

 

6 hours ago, TonyQ said:

A great start, beautiful photos and very helpful practical details (as we have come to expect!)  Here's my best hint.  If staying in the KTP for about 9 or more nights, get the Wild Card which is good for one year.  It was less expensive than the rate of 460 Rand per day.

 

5 hours ago, Tdgraves said:

Excellent- the green Kalahari. One small point Lynn, your falcon is a Lanner.  Thanks, I'll make the change.

 

5 hours ago, Alex The Lion said:

Great start...to the long awaited trip report!

 

Each time you have added images to an album it has been showing in the news feed! :D  Thanks for the likes.  Sorry for the maps that also have been added.

 

3 hours ago, Jil said:

Thanks for this report and photos. I especially liked the info on the plugs to use...I purchased a M plug for my trip in September to Kruger National Park.  The M plug will do it. How exciting you have an upcoming trip to such an exciting destination. I am hoping that getting money in Johannesburg ...I will try to avoid the airport scams.  I could see if it was some guy outside the airport trying to change money, but this is the one and only official kiosk at baggage claim.  I'm just glad I thought to ask about the fee.

 

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Posted (edited)

De Hoop Nature Reserve and The Cape

 

 

03 Mar, Cape Town to De Hoop Nature Reserve

Cape Agulhas makes a nice stop on the way to De Hoop. 

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One of the most interesting “sightings” of the trip...Fish traps from thousands of years ago at Cape Agulhas are still visible at low tide. These walls made of stones allowed fish to swim into the corrals at high tide and then when the water receded, the fish were taken by nests or spearing.

 

The following oceans shots were taken in just 5 minutes between 12:30 pm and 12:35 pm, when light through the clouds was optimal, during our one-hour visit to Cape Agulhas.

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Modern fishing at Cape Agulhas.

 

 

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Cape Agulhas

 

 

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Gull at Cape Agulhas

 

 

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Cape Agulhas

 

 

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Me at Cape Agulhas next to the African continent.

 

 

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Cape Agulhas Lighthouse

 

 

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Blue Cranes seen enroute to De Hoop.  Oddly, we saw zero Blue Cranes at De Hoop.  We were told just a couple pairs roosted in the 340 sq km / 130 sq mi reserve.

 

 

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The De Hoop baboons were shy and skittish.

 

From about 4:30 pm to 6 pm I went bontebok hunting around the grounds and found many willing subjects in nice late afternoon light.

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging, minutes after arriving.

 

 

 

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Bontebok tongue in foreground & sand dunes in background, viewed on foot, minutes after arriving.  That’s hitting the jackpot!

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging, minutes after arriving.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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 Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.  The stone wall, a signature of De Hoop, is visible in the background.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.  Eland in the background.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging. 

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, reminding me of its Indian cousin the Blackbuck, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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I was pleased when I could photograph a bontebok so unconcerned with me that it remained seated.  Viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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There was more in store than just bontebok that first evening.  A cooperative Cape Hare hopped about.

 

 

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Cape Hare at De Hoop.  Viewed on foot on the way to dinner.

 

Dinner, and the food in general, deserves more than a mere mention under a rabbit picture.  Breakfast and dinner were included and there were several choices for each at The Fig Tree Restaurant.  We bought our own lunches once as well. Outstanding food and service is a reason in itself to visit De Hoop!

 

04 Mar, De Hoop Nature Reserve

Part 1 of 4 on 04 Mar:  Escorted Morning bird walk with some driving as well, 6:00 am to 8:15 am

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De Hoop sunrise, viewed on foot during bird walk.

 

 

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De Hoop escorted bird walk, Bokmakierie, named for its call.

 

 

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De Hoop escorted bird walk, Bokmakierie, named for its call.

 

 

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De Hoop escorted bird walk, Bokmakierie, named for its call.

 

 

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De Hoop escorted bird walk, Southern Boubou.

 

 

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De Hoop escorted bird walk.  We saw more than birds.

 

 

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De Hoop driving part of the escorted bird walk, Cape Teal.

 

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De Hoop driving part of the escorted bird walk, Red-billed Teal.

 

Part 2 of 4 on 04 Mar:  Wayne and I drove through the reserve to the Ocean and back, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The De Hoop Marine Protected Area is 50 kms long and extends 5 nautical miles into the Indian Ocean.

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De Hoop bontebok, viewed from car.

 

 

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De Hoop bontebok, viewed from car.

 

 

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De Hoop tortoise, viewed from car.

 

 

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De Hoop Pied Avocets, viewed from car.

 

 

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The Indian Ocean is about a 45-minute drive from De Hoop lodging. We walked along the ocean, part of the De Hoop Marine Protected Area, about 90 minutes during low tide.

 

 

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The Indian Ocean is about a 45-minute drive from De Hoop lodging. We walked along the ocean, part of the De Hoop Marine Protected Area, about 90 minutes during low tide.

 

 

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Low tide seen during our 90-minute walk along the De Hoop Marine Protected Area in the Indian Ocean.

 

 

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Low tide seen during our 90-minute walk along the De Hoop Marine Protected Area in the Indian Ocean.

 

 

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Drive between Indian Ocean and De Hoop lodging.  Bright yellow-green bushes are Agathosma.

 

 

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Drive between Indian Ocean and De Hoop lodging.  Bright yellow-green bushes are Agathosma.

 

 

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Seen from car near De Hoop lodging after returning from ocean.

 

 

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Seen from car near De Hoop lodging after returning from ocean. 

 

Part 3 of 4 on 04 Mar:  Boat cruise on De Hoop Vlei, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  The high level of water meant few of the wading birds that would normally be seen. But some Little Grebes and Crested Grebes were paddling around in the brackish water. Heavy winds kicked up which also hindered our time on the water.

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De Hoop Vlei seen from land.

 

 

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Bee Hive seen on the De Hoop Vlei boat cruise.

 

 

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White-breasted Cormorant seen on the De Hoop Vlei boat cruise.

 

 

Part 4 of 4 on 04 Mar:  Bontebok spotting within easy walking distance from Otter Suite #1.  The late afternoon sun made for nice photos.

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging. Both mother and calf were comfortable remaining seated while I photographed.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed on foot near lodging.

 

 

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Sunset on the vlei, De Hoop.

 

 

Next is the remaining time at De Hoop

Edited by Atravelynn
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~ @Atravelynn:

 

An education in all respects.

 

Thank you for taking time to post the generous number of images.

 

One can't help but smile when seeing so much charm and beauty.

 

      Tom K.

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Posted (edited)

05 Mar, De Hoop Nature Reserve

 

Part 1 of 4 on 05 Mar:  Wayne and I headed out early for a morning safari, 6:00 am to 6:50 am, to try to find the South African endemic anteolope, the Grey Rhebok.  It was a lovely morning of wildlife, but the Grey Rhebok eluded us.

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Mountain Zebra in De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Bontebok at De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Ostriches at the shore of the vlei in De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Mountain Zebra in De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Mountain Zebra in De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Mountain Zebra in De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Mountain Zebra in De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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 Mountain Zebra in De Hoop, viewed from car.

 

 

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Cape Spur Fowl, viewed from the Fig Tree Restaurant where we had breakfast.

 

 

Part 2 of 5 on Mar 5:  “The Vulture Experience.”  We departed 9:10 am with our guide and drove an hour through farmland.  We then exited the vehicle and climbed about 400 meters, which took from 10:15 am to 10:55 am. From 10:55 am to 12:30 pm we were on the platform and observed and photographed the Cape Vultures on the cliffs of Pot Mountain which stood about 800 meters.  We also ate our included packed lunch.

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Cape Vulture soaring over cliffs at Pot Mountain near De Hoop.

 

 

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Cape Vulture near De Hoop.

 

 

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Cape Vulture flying over farmland that is crucial for their existence.

 

The vulnerable Cape Vultures  rear just one chick a year. There are few carcasses in the area for them to feed on and vultures only eat carrion.  The neighboring farmers help out by leaving any dead farm animals for the vultures.  Also, the vultures are allowed to feed on placentas of newborn livestock.  The electrical wires have been fitted with devices to prevent vultures from being electrocuted by them.

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Modified electrical wires to safeguard vultures from electrocution.

 

 

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Scenery on the ascent and descent from the “Vulture Experience.” 

 

 

We descended from 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm.  There were quite a few flowers around and in retrospect Wayne and I wished we had spent more time learning about them and taking photos of the flora.  Fortunately, we got to see those flowers at the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden the very next day.

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Scenery on the ascent and descent from the “Vulture Experience.” 

 

 

On the one-hour drive back from viewing the vultures, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, we saw bontebok and blue cranes on the farms.

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Young bontebok seen driving to and from the vultures.

 

 

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Blue cranes seen driving to and from the vultures.

 

 

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Blue cranes near sheep on a farm, viewed from car.

 

Part 3 of 5 on Mar 5: I asked if we could look for Grey Rhebok after the “Vulture Experience” once we got back near the Opstal (the farm buildings).  From 2:00 pm to 2:45 pm we searched out this elusive antelope and found half a dozen, most very far away.

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Male Grey Rhebok, De Hoop.

 

 

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Male Grey Rhebok, De Hoop.

 

 

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Female Grey Rhebok, De Hoop.

 

 

Part 4 of 5 on Mar 5:  Wayne and I headed to the ocean, 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm.

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Sand dunes De Hoop, viewed from car.  Bright yellow-green bushes are Agathosma. De Hoop.

 

 

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Ocean, about an hour’s drive & walk combo from De Hoop Opstal (buildings).  Viewed on foot.

 

 

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Black oystercatchers along ocean shore, viewed on foot.

 

 

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Black oystercatchers along ocean shore, viewed on foot.

 

 

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Black oystercatchers along ocean shore, viewed on foot.

 

 

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Rock Hyraxes along the ocean, viewed on foot.

 

 

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Beach on foot, De Hoop.

 

 

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Beach on foot, De Hoop.

 

 

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  Beach on foot, De Hoop.

 

Part 5 of 5 on Mar 5:  After sundown Wayne and I looked for Spotted Eagle Owls in the famous fig trees, planted on the property in 1956 by the Department of Nature Conservancy, a private organization.  No owls seen.

 

 

Quote of the Trip in Recipe Form

 

Two separate De Hoop guides gave me this same recipe, shown here on an illustrated "recipe card."

 

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Next is the last day at De Hoop and on to KTP

Edited by Atravelynn
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1 hour ago, Tom Kellie said:

 

One can't help but smile when seeing so much charm and beauty.  The embodiment of the bontebok--charm and beauty!

 

      Tom K.

 

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Posted (edited)

Mar 6 De Hoop Nature Reserve and Return to Cape Town

 

Part 1 of 4 of Mar 6:  One last early morning stroll, 6 am to 7:30 am.

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One of the 3 giant Fig Trees planted in 1956 by the Department of Nature Conservancy at the entrance to the main building in De Hoop.  The trees came from KwaZulu-Natal and are not native.

 

The Spotted Eagle Owls were out in the early morning.

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Spotted Eagle Owl on building, De Hoop. 6:15 am

 

 

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Young Spotted Eagle Owls viewed on foot in and around the Fig Trees, De Hoop. 6:20 am

 

 

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Young Spotted Eagle Owls, viewed on foot in and around the Fig Trees, De Hoop. 6:20 am

 

 

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Spotted Eagle Owl youngster, viewed on foot in and around the Fig Trees, De Hoop. 6:30 am

 

 

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Spotted Eagle Owl, viewed on foot in and around the Fig Trees, De Hoop. 6:30 am

 

 

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Milkwood Tree with the buildings in the background, viewed on foot, De Hoop.

 

 

 

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Milkwood Tree and rocky terrain, viewed on foot, De Hoop.

 

 

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Milkwood Tree and the stone walls that were used before barbed wire at De Hoop, viewed on foot.

 

 

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Bokmakierie, De Hoop.

 

 

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Bokmakierie in foreground, De Hoop Opstal (buildings) in background.

 

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Bontebok say goodbye to me as we departed De Hoop by car.

 

 

Part 2 of 4 on 6 Mar:  8:30 am to noon--Leisurely drive with stops from DeHoop to Hermanus for a 45-minute stroll.  No whales this time of year. No photos.

 

Part 3 of 4 on 6 Mar:  Betty Bay for Penguins.  Lots of them.  Noon to 1:00 pm drive from Hermanus to Betty Bay, 1:00 pm to 2:10 pm walk around to look at the penguins.

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Betty Bay, African Penguins.

 

 

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Betty Bay

 

 

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Betty Bay

 

 

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Betty Bay

 

 

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Betty Bay

 

 

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Black Oystercatcher, Betty Bay

 

 

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Betty Bay

 

 

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Betty Bay

 

 

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Betty Bay

 

Part 4 of 4 on 6 Mar:  The Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens are a few minutes’ drive from Betty Bay.  We walked around the gardens from 2:20 pm to 3:10 pm.  The vegetation we had seen on Pot Mountain when viewing the vultures was also here in the garden.

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March Lilies at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, and it was March.

 

 

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March Lilies at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens. A few raindrops had fallen.

 

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Erica at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Closeup of Erica at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Wide angle Erica at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Paintbrush Lily at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Double-collared Sunbird on Chasmint at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Double-collared Sunbird on Chasmint at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Protea at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Sugarbird on Protea at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

 

 

3:15 pm to 4:30 pm drive back to Cape Verde Hotel in Cape Town, where I spent the night.

 

07 March  Wayne of Take2Tours transferred me from Cape Verde Hotel to the airport, 5 minutes away, at 5:15 am for a 6:45 am South African Airlink departure.   Good-bye to Wayne for an outstanding and memorable several days!

 

Arrive Upington Airport at 8:05 am.

 

Pieter Hanekom of Kalahari Safaris was there to meet me and we departed the airport at 8:20 am.

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Pieter’s 4x4 vehicle that served us well through 4x4 roads, high water and a night of lion attacks when I was safely tucked into my chalet.

 

 

Shortly after meeting Pieter, I asked him how he got started in the safari business.  The answer was a great Kgalagadi Tale, best told by him, but I’ll share it here.  Pieter started over 15 years ago when a Dutchman asked Pieter to take him on a Kgalagadi Tour.  Pieter borrowed his mother’s car and they were off.  Not long into the trip the entire windscreen (windshield) came out of the molding and blew off the vehicle, leaving them entirely exposed to the elements. 

 

“What did you do?” I asked. 

 

“Picked it up, threw it in the back and kept going!”  Pieter replied. 

 

That was not the end of their mishaps.  Next the passenger door came off the hinges and fell to the ground, meaning there was no passenger door. 

 

“What did you do?”  I asked. 

 

“Picked it up, threw it in the back and kept going!”  Pieter replied. He added that he was reprimanded by other drivers at lion sightings to close the door.  He explained he could not because it was in the back seat.

 

“So how did your passenger react to all of this?”  I inquired.

 

“Fine. He bought a case of beer each morning that he drank throughout the day.”  

 

Safari #1 was a success of sorts and the rest is history!  His mother’s car was adequately insured to add to the happy ending. 

large.59643142_DSC05198YELLOWMONGOOSE.jpg.9741c0e2edb9f943f1283f5de167f2aa.jpg

Yellow Mongoose on grounds of Mata Mata, morning.

 

 

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Yellow Mongoose on grounds of Mata Mata, morning.

 

 

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Black-shouldered Kite in Kgalagadi.

 

 

We had a 30-minute stop in Ashkram and a couple photo stops for blossoms from the rains between the Upington International Airport and the entrance to the KTP.

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Devil’s Thorn blooming enroute to KTP.

 

We arrived at the Two Rivers entrance to the Kgalagadi at noon.  You pay the park fees for your entire stay upon arrival.   For 10 nights, purchasing a Wild Card, which is good for one year, was a better deal than paying the fee of 460 ZAR per day. Park fees must be paid in rand, not credit card.

 

For the 460 ZAR per day or the Wild Card, you get a very helpful map.   I also brought one from home that I had bought before the trip.  And there are lots of maps posted on the internet, such as at Pieter’s website. 

  large.1059813710_DSC05342WhiteMarbledMonarch.jpg.134c33eb9f69362ab308e8e74fab8b48.jpg

Marbled White in Devil’s Thorn on grounds of Twee Rivieren.

 

 

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Yellow mongoose on grounds of Mata Mata, morning.

 

 

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Yellow mongoose on grounds of Mata Mata, morning.

 

 

For the KTP I wanted to investigate two things that I did not quite grasp.  #1 The lay of the land, including the waterholes, some with tricky names.  #2 The transcendent, almost spiritual appeal of this area to so many South Africans, and others as well.

 

For #1, I used the helpful map provided upon arrival and enlarged the areas we were in and what we saw, using a not-to-scale format. For #2, I visited with my neighbors, fellow hide sitters, of course Pieter and our “rescuers” when we needed transporting.

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Swallowtail Bee-eater, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Young Martial Eagle, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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The ever-present Pale Chanting Goshawk taking off, Kgalagadi.

 

Next is first night at Twee Rivieren

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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How beautiful are those bontibok!!! amazing

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Hoorah!! another epic @Atravelynn TR

wow what a bounty of beautiful bonteboks! 

and a stunning juv martial eagle. 

 

Looking forward to the tale of how Lions Mistook the Vehicle for a Baby Elephant (that's how I"m going to interpret it! :D ). 

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18 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

How beautiful are those bontibok!!! amazing

There was one pose that especially reminded me of their Indian "cousin" the blackbuck.

16 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

 

Hoorah!! another epic @Atravelynn TR

wow what a bounty of beautiful bonteboks! 

and a stunning juv martial eagle. 

 

Looking forward to the tale of how Lions Mistook the Vehicle for a Baby Elephant (that's how I"m going to interpret it! :D ).   That should have been the report title!

 

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Posted (edited)

7 Mar, Afternoon Arrival in Kgalagadi at the Two Rivers entrance gate and drive along the Nossob Riverbed.

The Nossob River last flowed in 1964.  Even these rains did not produce a river during my stay.

large.1795796229_1donearriveinsert(1).jpg.019d7730fd8415e990f161f6e4816ba7.jpg

A copy of the map provided upon entry is shown, above, with the area we drove outlined in red.  That area is sketched in enlarged form showing where the major sightings were. Birds of prey were so prolific that they often are not listed on the map.

 

When Pieter pointed out this Cape Cobra in the distant Sociable Weaver’s nest, it foreshadowed his good spotting skills and that the KTP would deliver some unusual moments.

 

large.1555483586_DSC00867cobraatsociableweaversnest.jpg.edd9370fbb4f8165123f312ad5d41c33.jpg

Cape Cobra on Sociable Weavers’ Nest, which can be 100 years old.  That’s many generations worth of Sociable Weavers that have survived predators like the cobra.

 

 

large.1461517880_DSC00897cobraatsociableweaversnest2(2).jpg.99b02662d8d81e27b217170ef96e91eb.jpg

Cape Cobra on Sociable Weavers’ Nest.

 

 

large.1898795576_DSC00938cobraatsociableweaversnest.jpg.6c69a147327257e3bac12094e145f4ec.jpg

Cape Cobra on Sociable Weavers’ Nest.

 

 

 

large.667135513_DSCN8830cobraatsociableweaversnest.jpg.530e4de6b599531e74744f606ca4d334.jpg

Sociable Weavers alarmed at the intruder.

 

 

This cobra sighting confirmed advice I had been given often over the years:  Don’t stand directly under a Sociable Weavers nest and carefully survey the ground when walking near a Sociable Weavers nest.

 

large.1496132805_DSCN8840stripedfieldmouseandhousesparrow.jpg.9059de4ce491a902c39c5240e5983aac.jpg

Striped Field Mouse and House Sparrow. The striped field mouse is on the road, but Pieter also pointed out some that nestled in the bushes the lined the roads.

 

 

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Not sure just who is performing these aerial maneuvers.

 

 

large.1697235148_DSCN8977cheetah3motherand2nearadultcubs(2).jpg.06e6d1f8086cd23b555065833fe9a6ff.jpg

Mother cheetah and 2 near adult cubs.

 

 

7 Mar Afternoon and Evening at Twee Rivieren property and hide with water hole.

 large.343298038_DSC010842riversyellowmongoose.jpg.f93776742fe74f38bf272ec85870e1ba.jpg

Yellow mongoose on Twee Rivieren grounds.

 

 

The hide is open 24 hours a day and the waterhole, which is visible from the hide, is lit all night. I stayed from about 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm on our arrival day of 07 Mar.

 

large.801686356_DSCN9105gianteagleowlhide2riversdusk.jpg.fd7cfd7f31aa8bbe41402da59231b499.jpg

Giant Eagle Owlet and two parents, only one parent visible, 6:45 pm, Twee Rivieren Hide.

 

 

large.1257597877_DSCN9103GiantEAgleOwlhide2riversdusk(2).jpg.136a2527159cd41329ea4631c008310b.jpg

Giant Eagle Owlet and two parents, only one parent visible, 6:45 pm, Twee Rivieren Hide.

 

 

8 Mar, Twee Rivieren to Mata Mata, along the Auob Riverbed

The Auob last flowed in 1973 and 1974. Even these rains did not produce a river during my stay. 

 

large.1589893792_2ndmapUSEtomatamatawithanimals.jpg.86ecd033097a32a62024ed0fd36b64de.jpg

A copy of the map provided upon entry is shown, above, with the area we drove outlined in red.  That area is sketched in enlarged form showing where the major sightings were. Birds of prey were so prolific that they often are not listed on the map.

 

 

large.265452951_DSC01162blackshoulderedkite.jpg.324e982dd4c8620c20f528b69ab877e8.jpg

Black-shouldered Kite in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Leopard Tortoise surrounded by Devil’s Thorn in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Leopard Tortoise surrounded by Devil’s Thorn in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Ground Squirrel  surrounded by Devil’s Thorn, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Ground Squirrel  surrounded by Devil’s Thorn, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Whistling Rat in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Swallowtail Bee-eater, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Swallowtail Bee-eater flying in Kgalagadi.

 

 

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Pygmy Falcons sometimes take over compartments in Sociable Weavers nests and are welcomed because they keep snakes and lizards at bay.

 

 

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Small snake, perhaps an Egg Eating Snake?

 

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Sociable Spider nest, built when it rains at Auchteronie Waterhole rest area.

 

 

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Sociable Spiders come out when it rains at Auchteronie Waterhole rest area.

 

 

large.DSC02662.JPG.4638c6fa088ad5e23bea04f0319931e2.JPG

Pieter letting air out of the tires at Auchteronie Waterhole rest area.  Reducing air pressure was important on the rough roads.

 

 

large.774898344_DSC02925rockmonitor.jpg.22b7ff766e5dd3b463c0a3d07f772134.jpg

Rock Monitor surrounded by Devil’s Thorn in Kgalagadi.

 

 

large.1460852399_DSC03143groundagamasharperandtighter2.jpg.ca5c052f052de7bbfff3811f25029698.jpg

Female ground agama-Her neck shows blue because she has mated and is fertilized.  The blue a signal to other males to seek out a different female.

 

 

large.1712314295_grassjewelbutterfliesatKamqua.jpg.d93a6449dc23f8ae0640e88284587aaa.jpg

Grass Jewel Butterflies at Kamqua Waterhole rest area.

 

 

large.1061127359_DSC03176cattails(2).jpg.f65f289ebf37a12a0b742a9311ce4618.jpg

Cat Tails that bloom after rain, Kgalagadi.

 

 

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African Migrant Butterflies at Craig Lockhart Waterhole.

 

Next is the meerkats and mongoose make Mata Mata Rest Camp their home

Edited by Atravelynn
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~ @Atravelynn: After images of this quality and variety, what more may be said?

 

Noting favorites would be an exercise in frustration with so many striking photographs from which to choose.

 

Nevertheless, the Cinnyris chalybeus images are superlative as is the Haemanthus coccineus photograph.

 

I'm so glad that you were there to appreciate such natural beauty.

 

Thank you so much for taking time to share it here.

 

      Tom K.

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excellent TR, @Atravelynn! I enjoy reading it a lot! And I am happy as a kid to see those pictures! ;-)

It is a beautiful time to visit Kgalagadi during the rainy season. I love the diversity of flowers and butterflies! The sighting of cheetahs was probably a highlight of the day. Interestingly we saw giraffes in the same place in Nov 2019 and cheetahs not far away from the place you saw. The maps are nice ;-) 

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16 hours ago, Tom Kellie said:

~ @Atravelynn: After images of this quality and variety, what more may be said?

 

 

Nevertheless, the Cinnyris chalybeus images are superlative as is the Haemanthus coccineus photograph.

 

You're making me google the Latin, Tom!

 

9 hours ago, ElenaH said:

excellent TR, @Atravelynn! I enjoy reading it a lot! And I am happy as a kid to see those pictures! ;-)

The sighting of cheetahs was probably a highlight of the day. Interestingly we saw giraffes in the same place in Nov 2019 and cheetahs not far away from the place you saw. Maybe the very same ones. The maps are nice ;-) Thanks, we can share locations of sightings, then.  I suppose even more helpful would be GPS locators on the shots, but that is beyond me.

 

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I had also been seeing the galleries full up with photos and anticipated the start of this report, and it's really delivered. The details are exquisite, love the maps with the details of where the sightings occurred. And very cool info about the ground agama! 

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