Monday, 28 July 2014

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Part 6



Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Part 6) – May/June 2014


As always we rise early when on a ‘safari’ type vacation or photography shoot and more so on these last few mornings as we were on our first trip to the stunning Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa’s, Northern Cape.  The lions and the Black-backed Jackals were, as they had been on previous nights, very ‘vocal’. Would we see them this morning?  My wife and I discuss the possibilities as spotting Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park lion is a highlight of anybodies trip to the park and we excitedly agreed the roars we heard in the night and very early that morning came from the general direction in which we were to travel today.
This morning we were leaving behind the ‘Kalahari Tented Camp’ and surrounding area, where we had spent the last 3 wonderful days and nights, for today we were heading to the ‘Nossob’ rest camp a bit further North into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. A quick breakfast and with the car packed we went through our normal routine of getting our ‘permit’ at the Kalahari Tented Camps reception desk and set off for Nossob.
The sun was just beginning to creep over the sandy dunes of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and we had only been travelling a few minutes down the sandy tracks when my wife spotted him, a magnificent specimen of a male Kgalagadi Lion (Panthera leo) almost blending into the grass as the early morning sunlight bathed both him and the dune grass in a light orange glow. He was almost certainly the male lion we’d heard the previous night and earlier that morning just before daybreak. We tried to manoeuvre to get a better picture of this ‘king’ of the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park but unfortunately we were unable to do so as we had car ‘traffic’ build up behind us and we had a long way to go over the dune roads to Nossob Camp.


Lion (Panthera leo)-Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi Lion (Panthera leo) bathed in early morning sunshine.
Due to the distance we had to travel and the condition of the roads (sandy river beds) in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park we didn’t want to waste any time so we pressed on down the sandy river bed road of the Auob river heading for our first stop which was the ‘Dikbaardskolk Picnic Area’ which we later found out would be a welcome break. To get there we had to travel south for about 50 km to the ‘Upper’ dune road turning.  Then a further 50km on the upper dune road which traverses across the dunes between the Auob and the Nossob dry river beds.


Photograph of a female Northern-black-Korhaan-Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Northern-black-Korhaan (Afrotis afraoides) – Female on the ‘Upper Dune’ road
As we hit the ‘Upper dune’ road the soft rutted sand of the Auob turned to deep hard ‘rutted’ course sand which when travelling at a modest 30km an hour was enough to ‘rattle’ the fillings in your teeth loose. About 3km along this road we sighted, strolling in front of us, a male and female Northern Black Korhaan’s, (Afrotis afraoides) the more colourful male unfortunately disappeared into the dune grass but the female gave us some great photographic opportunities. Continuing along the ‘road from hell’ it wasn’t only the ‘fillings’ that were being affected ‘bladders’ were also telling us to hurry along to the ‘Dikbaardskolk Picnic Area’. Ant-eating-Chat (Myrmecocichla formicivora) were common place along the road as well as Fawn-coloured Larks (Mirafra africanoides) and of course the ever present Pale Chanting Goshawks (Melierax canorus). The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park never had such a welcome sight as the turn into the ‘Dikbaardskolk Picnic Area’ and an end to the ‘Road from Hell’ or the Upper Dune Road.  The time was already approaching midday and we had travelled just the 100km since leaving the Khalahari Tented Camp at 7:30am that morning.


Photography of Dikbaardskolk Picnic Area-Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Dikbaardskolk Picnic Area -Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – South Africa
‘Dikbaardskolk Picnic Area’ was in a spotless condition and the toilets were well stocked with hand soap and toilet paper, a credit to Sanparks as basically we were at least 50 km from the nearest main camp Nossob (our destination for the next few days). In the Kruger
National Park at picnic areas Chacma Baboons (Papio ursinus) and Vervet Monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) tend to be a problem as people often feed these wild animals, who in turn become aggressive and a nuisance around food. DO NOT FEED WILD ANIMALS ..ok rant over, here at ‘Dikbaardskolk Picnic Area’ the problem wasn’t a primate but a bird, the ‘Sociable Weaver’ (Philetairus socius). These birds were everywhere, perching on your head as you sat to try and have a bite of a bun or sandwich. They even tried to take the bun from my wife’s hand as she ate. Amazing little birds though as they were followed around by their ever hungry chicks.
After our short break we pressed on towards Nossob rest camp, now on the dry sandy river bed of the ‘ephemeral’ Nossob River (they only flow for a short period and then only in really good rainy seasons). The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park really is diverse and good sightings of Black-shouldered kite (Elanus axillaris) who were busily feeding on one of the many rodents that inhabit the park. Herds of Sprinkbok (Elanus axillaris) and Gemsbok (Oryx gazella) were in great number all the way to Nossob Camp. We arrived at the camp after travelling the last 50 km at about 3pm in the afternoon and checked in to our chalet, unpacked the car which started our next leg of our trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Nossob Camp.