We had the whole day on Thursday in Golden Gate NP. S & I went for a short morning birding drive and we finally saw bearded vulture (which was a lifer and the last of birds we were hoping to see in our Drakensburg trip). After breakfast, S & I went into Clarens as we needed to fill the car up and I needed some things from the pharmacy and we headed back to spend the balance of the day admiring the view. H and the some of the others attempted a morning run but at 2400 meters and trying to run up the mountain, H said it was more of walk than a run. She almost stepped on a snake as well – she said she was putting down her foot and noticed it and stepped to the side instead (fortunately).
S, K & I went out later again for an afternoon drive but otherwise we just spent the day relaxing and enjoying the view from the cottage. The only drama in the day came while preparing for dinner. H decided to chop a portion of her finger off. Normally I would be the one to help but there were many good samaritans on hand (Mr M & Mr G) to help out and patch up the finger. I have decided that H should stay away from sharp knives in 2020 though! The only negative about the accommodation in Golden Gate is that the electricity seemed somewhat erratic. It went off in the morning and it took some time to rectify and in the evening the lights were so weak you had to supplement the lights (see pic!).
We left at 6:30am on Friday morning as we had a long (9 hour) drive to Karoo National Park. The route we picked avoided the N1 for as much as possible and did involve us taking a dirt road for about 60 kms. It was pretty bumpy but it did take some time and distance off the route. It also meant we avoided traffic for much of the drive as the roads were less busy. We joined the N1 just before Colesberg and the increase in traffic was noticeable. You also have to deal with trucks which on the back routes you don’t really encounter.
We did make good time and arrived at Beaufort West around 3:15pm. Karoo NP is just south of BW and the restcamp is about 5 km from the gate. We have stayed here once before in 2010 and we really liked it then and our memory wasn’t incorrect. The accommodation is probably the best Sanparks accommodation we have stayed in. The views from the cottage are again beautiful but very different from the Drakensberg views.
We did go for a brief evening drive (even after the 9 hours in the car) and added klipspringer to trip list of animals. It is very dry and hot in the Karoo (it was in high 30s C when we arrived at 3pm). The difference between the green Drakensberg and drought stricken Karoo was again very noticeable. When we got back from the drive we S, K & I went to the bird hide (at the rest camp) and we added another 2 lifers! That now takes me to 19 lifers for the trip and S to 22 lifers (and 111 for the trip).
There was a very tame kudu in the camp and it came to visit last night. It seems it has been fed by people and that really is a shame because it is a wild animal. It clearly was looking for food from us (which we weren’t going to give) but everyone did manage to pet the kudu (which is a lifer for everyone!).
Pasta dinner last night and off to bed relatively early after all the driving.
P, H, S, C & K