Today was our first full day in the Kgalagadi and we all agreed that we were underwhelmed. The landscape is very stark and dry but the game is very sparse and there is very little variety. We were up today to leave when the gates opened at 7:30am (as the sun rose). It was 3 degrees outside and it took about 2 hours to warm up to about 20 degrees. The animals were clearly also cold because they were nowhere to be seen for the first 45 minutes or so of our drive this morning. We headed up the road to Nossob again and after passing 2 waterholes and seeing very little we decided to keep going to the next waterhole. On route there Helen spotted a solitary lioness sitting on the ridge. We decided to pull off and have our coffee/hot chocolate/rusks and see if she was going to do anything. By the time we finished she hadn’t moved at all so we went on the waterhole. There we saw a black backed jackal come to drink and then a Lanner Falcon was doing some interesting flight maneuvers. Those were pretty much the highlights of the morning drive. We did add Red Hartebees to the trip list as well as some more birds (though no lifers). About half way back I might have gotten tired of driving and let someone else (not Stephen because he can’t yet officially drive) drive back.
We got back around midday by which time the temperature had risen to 25 degrees (even so Michael was still wearing his Cossack head covering when we got back – that’s him coming back from dropping off the permit at the gate). Michael and Helen headed for their beds (Michael was so exhausted from all the hard work he has done that he even skipped lunch). I believe our travel companions (let’s call them the Pinkers today), also tried out their beds. At 3:30pm we headed out for another drive and we decided to try the road to Mata Mata instead. Helen and Chloe elected to stay in the camp rather so it was just the me and the Boys and the Pinkers in their own vehicle. We (unfortunately) again did not see much. The highlights were probably the Pygmy Falcon right on the side of the road, the Gemsbok with one horn facing forward and the other facing back and a Steenbok that was pooing. When a Steenbok pooing becomes a highlight you can really tell how sparse the game is. It was even a quiet day on the birding front though we are up to 46 trippers and 2 lifers (so far).
Mrs Pinker was so enthralled with the game life that we learnt this evening that she had given up and was reading You magazine (which she claimed she never bought herself but was ‘given’ by someone else). If you don’t bird then I am not sure what the attraction of the Kgalagadi is (at the moment). We are hoping that because we are right in the south, as we move further north we will get a better experience. The board showing animal sightings has giraffe and suricate on it so you know that you’re going to have tough spotting. And by late evening, the only sighting of lion for the day was the one we saw.
This evening we again had the mandatory braai, some good discussion around the dinner table (and Mr Pinker doing some impersonations) and now it is 9:48pm and everyone (except me) is already in bed. We are hoping for a better game sighting day tomorrow.
(PS: the beast is handling the gravel roads here with ease – she is taking it in her stride)