I am typing this knowing that I won’t be able to post it tonight. We are now at Mata Mata Rest Camp in the Kgalagadi. We have no cellphone signal and the camp electricity will be switched off at 10pm. It is now 9:50pm and so I am expecting to finish typing the blog by the light of my laptop only. I can hear the generator in the distance so I am glad they will turn it off. We are all in bed so we are ready for the lights to go out.
Today we drove from Twee Rivieren up to Mata Mata. We left at 8am as we figured that it would be slightly warmer by that stage (it was 8 degrees C when we left). The Yellower’s (our travel companions – real name protected) weren’t quite ready by 8am so we left ahead of them knowing they would catch us up given our desire to stop to do some birding. By 4kms outside the camp they had caught us up. The distance between the two camps is about 130 kms and we figured it would take us 4.5 hours – it actually took us 6.5 hours.
About an hour outside of Twee Rivieren we saw 3 cheetah sitting on the ridge purveying the world. We watched them until they started walking and eventually lost them as they went down a hill. It was a great sighting and meant we had seem 3 times more cheetah than lion (and that ratio is still standing). Later on the drive we spotted Hyena (the spotted variety) with suckling cubs. They were lying right on the side of the road. We also managed to add 1 more lifer to our birding list (Fairy Flycatcher – for you Paul) and by the end of the day our bird list stood at 60 in total. It was a slow start to the day because we had seen most of what we had already seen. However, when most of the family was sleeping, Stephen and I managed to see about 5 or 6 trippers including Rock Kestrel and White-backed Vulture. At least 90 more for the trip needed and at least another 7 lifers as well. The only other highlight of the morning game drive was seeing a very large herd of Springbok. Up until this point we had never seen more than 3 Springbok together at once and then we saw this herd of well over a thousand (not kidding).
We arrived at Mata Mata at around 2:30pm. We have two ‘luxury river front’ chalets while the Yellower’s have a family unit. I saw ‘luxury river front’ for a number of reasons. Firstly, luxury to Sanparks means DSTV (which we don’t need). Secondly, because ‘River Front’ is a very broad term for meaning looking out over the dry river bed which looks like it has never flowed in recent ‘known’ history. And the value of ‘river frontage’ when there is no game and no water is pretty limited. I think Sanparks have used the word ‘River’ quite liberally (see photo).
We chilled in the camp in the afternoon and Mr Yellower, Stephen & myself went out for a late afternoon drive. We did manage to add one new mammal species – a lone Giraffe. Given the vegetation that is a very rare sight in the Kgalagadi. We also saw another two Black Backed Jackals (almost getting tired of seeing them) and the other usual game (being Gemsbok, Springbok & Wildebeest). I can see why the name of park used to be Kalahari Gemsbok Park because the Gemsbok is undoubtedly the equivalent to Impala in the Kruger National Park. There is no animal that comes close in sightings and number to the Gemsbok (even though we saw over 1000 Springbok at once today).
We had our usual braai for dinner and during the braai we heard cat like calling from near the petrol station and so after dinner the boys went to investigate and came back saying they had seen a Civet (or what they thought was one). It had started off on the other side of the fence and then ended up our side of the fence. We all went investigating and eventually found it in a tree (and it was a Civet). With all the excitement Helen managed to take a heavy fall over a sewerage drain and fortunately did no serious damage except probably a little bruising (though I think she will feel it more tomorrow).
It was off to our chalets to ensure we were all in bed before the power was cut. I am finishing typing now by the light of the laptop screen only. I am also trying to kill mosquitos by the light of the screen. They are about 4 buzzing around my head and it is driving me crazy. I have only managed to kill 1 so far (make that 2 – just killed a noisy, big fat one – squashed against the wall – left it there as a reminder to the others) – another 3 (at least to go). Hopefully they won’t affect my sleep tonight!
Until tomorrow … P, H, S, M & C