Yesterday we drove from Nossob to Bitterpan and unfortunately left the others behind at Nossob. As it is a very popular time to be in the Kgalagadi, we couldn’t all get accommodation in Nossob for both nights and so we went to Bitterpan. The road to Bitterpan is 4×4 access only and as only two of the group had full 4×4 cars, it meant either the Ws or us. However, Bitterpan is unfenced and no children under 12 are allowed and as the Gs have a 10-year old son it meant they couldn’t go either.
As we had no opportunity to do a drive north except yesterday morning, we headed north just after the gates opened. What we have figured out is that you generally see things only around the watering holes. As you head north there is one about 10kms from the camp and other 12kms further north. At the first one we were told you only saw birds (and the occasional jackal) and we only saw a few birds we had already seen. Then at next watering hole there was a fair amount of game but nothing we hadn’t seen before. We headed back again and at the first watering hole there were a lot more birds. A large number of birds were drinking and then suddenly a Lanner falcon came out of nowhere and tried to swoop down and grab a bird. It missed. But then we knew it would keep trying and so watched and sure enough a few minutes later the scenario was repeated and it missed again, and it tried a 3rd time and again it missed.
Back to the camp to pack up and check out and check in for Bitterpan (you have to do that at Nossob). They also have to open the gate for you for the road so that no one can mistakenly get on the road. Everything we read said not to expect much game and they were right. We did see a kudu about 1km out of Nossob (they are very rare in this park so it was our only sighting so far) but beside that a few gemsbok we didn’t see much. The bird life was pretty good though and we did add a number of ‘trippers’ to our list.
The road was generally fine except for the occasional up and down when the bonnet rose so high that you could see the road ahead and just had to hope it didn’t take a sudden turn (which it did a few times!). The upslopes were sometimes very sandy and required the full of the Beast to get up but traction control only engaged 3 times. There was some violent shaking about at times as well. We arrived at Bitterpan before 3pm. It consisted of 4 reed and canvas huts with each sleeping 2 people. The bathroom is separate from the rooms but just outside and each room has its own bathroom. There is a central kitchen area for everyone to use. All of the rooms overlook the pan (which is a salt pan). We had 3 out of the 4 rooms so there was only one other couple staying there with us and they were also from Cape Town and in fact lived just around the corner from my parents home in Newlands.
The sunset was incredible over the pan. Unfortunately my WiFi access is pretty limited and so I can’t upload photos at the moment but will try in a day or two’s time. Mandatory braai for dinner (butterflied legs of lamb) and off to bed relatively early (8:15pm). At about 9:30pm Michael stuck his head in and said a Spotted Genet was in the camp climbing up the kitchen roof. It had gone into a lookout tower behind the kitchen but we could still see it through the slats.
It was a cold night with temperatures getting near 0 degrees. Inside the rooms it felt colder. I slept with 2 blankets, long pjs and a fleece and I regretted not having a beanie with me. Despite that both Helen and I managed to sleep quite well but getting out of bed this morning was a real problem. It was icy cold. One positive was that on the tree right outside our room was sitting a Red-necked falcon which was a lifer for me (taking me to 431 birds).
We had breakfast at 8am and then hit the road toward Mata Mata. As we were the only car heading that way on the road, you can see the animal tracks from the previous night (which were numerous). Michael jumped out at one stage (yes I know you’re not meant to get out but there really wasn’t any danger) and identified the tracks as leopard but unfortunately walking in the opposite direction. The road was pretty similar to that leading to Bitterpan but with more loose sand and for longer stretches. Besides the bumping up and down and swaying left to right and right to left (all simultaneously at times), the Beast handled the road easily.
We have arrived safely at Mata Mata (we got here about 1pm) and managed to get our accommodation at 2pm. As you can tell they have WiFi hence my ability to post this blog.
P, S, O, H & M (H&M misrepresented me numerous times yesterday and found it very funny so they are worthy of their places)