As always, I would like to start at the beginning of my day. This was at 2h30am! I briefly mentioned the barking Gecko in the rafters yesterday? I have now decided, it is not a Barking Gecko, it is some kind of demonic hissing, spitting amphibian creature, put in the rafters to specially annoy me! Every time I turn around in bed, it spits at me! And then comes the post spit HISSSSSsssss! But the problem is, Damien ( it now has a name), puts so much effort into the HIsssss, that it promptly has a bowel movement! There are little fire balls of crap all over the room now! Hence, me being awake at 2h30! I was spat awake (English is not my first language, but even I can see something is amok with that sentence?)!
Ok, post 2h30 demon spit later, some confusion with gate times. On the map they kindly give you to illustrate the two roads in the Kgalagadi, it clearly states gate opening time for November is 5h30am. But, on the clock sign at the gate it says 6h15. I reckoned that the people at the park would know better than the media print shop in Cape Town that printed the map and gate times. So I will go with the Gate clock sign! By 6am, I am standing ready, but strangely, the sun has been up for a while! I got clarity on this matter later in the day, when the gate guard said he doesn’t know who made the time on the gate wrong (my personal feeling, somebody who wanted to hog the Lions for themselves)
So at incorrect 6h15, I went into the park! Halihaaaa, what a day! Spectacular! It started off with a family of Suricates (and o henetjie, how embarrassing would it be if it was actually banded mongoose or some such, and here am I, Guide trainer of note, and a qualified field guide saying it is a suricate!). But I know in Afrikaans they are called Meerkatte or Graatjies. I digress. Back to the massacre theme of this epic adventure! One of the Graatjies managed to catch a Rock Agama. A BIG one! It was chomping away, starting with the head, and from here it is going to get a bit graphic. PG in effect! So, it bit of the head, but apparently the sinew is a bit of a tough customer to get loose. So, furious snapping and pulling, and that sorted it out. And in the middle of this feast, some danger was noted, so the Suricate was standing on its back legs with an agama’s lower half dangling out of the side of its mouth, with one agama arm still kicking! I wonder what the agama though it would do if it could kick itself free? Run around with no head? Oe, this reminds of Matjiesfontein all over again!
Now in my head I am an award winning photographer. In reality, I am rather crappy at it. But it gives me so much joy just pressing that shutter release button that I actually don’t really care if the photos never end up in the National Geographic! So unfortunately, my photos don’t really show the guts and gore, but believe me, it was spraying all over the show!
After that little blood fest, I stumbled over a Dark Chanting Goshawk! Again, some mediocre photos there, but well worth the 70 spaces it took up on my memory card!
And so it went on. Two hours of small birds, little mammals running around, and fun and games to be had by all. I have to admit, seeing as I am in Blue bullet all alone, and Bullet is not a big talker, I found myself having fat chats with myself, and random animals around me! Hello there Mr Ostrich! How YOU doing? And the last song I played before entering the park was a song of which I only know about a half a stanza, and that got stuck in my head (I see a hmmm la la da, grace lala your mind. In a world of laahmmmlaaa la I see). Hence my decision to turn back after about 2 and half hours in one direction (also, the guy at the gate told me that the road is closed from 20km from Twee Rivieren Camp. He also drew this on my map with magic marker, in case I got confused between the metric system and the other system that people use on maps. Ok, I see his point. But, 30km later, still no clear “road closed, don’t you dare cross this one rock lying on the ground” sign. I thus turned around of my own accord. ( They say it is hard to find internet in Jail)
And then it happened! I was doing a spot of bird watching, and as one does when doing this hobby, the eye will always go into trees, and underneath trees. So I saw a small black bird, under a tree. This now as I drove past. But then my mind said, hang on, a small bird wont sinuously stretch itself out like a snake! Slam brakes, come to a skidding halt that even the big Sarel van der Merwe would not have been able to pull off, without rolling poor Bullet! I Slam into reverse, and take out three Kanna bushes. O hell, it could have been Njarra bushes too, I was not really looking ok! And then I see it. One ear sticking up, in the shade! Leopard I think? Nah, the last time the Kgalagadi pulled a strange animal that don’t belong here stunt, was when they brought in 12 Giraffes, and my brother also nearly rolled the car when we saw one. Basically, a traffic hazard to do that. Then in my jumbled confusion, it sunk in, CHEETAH! The fast cat? Lives in the Kalahari and Namibia. Ag, ok, pretty much everywhere. Seriously endangered, due to its love life being a little Mississippi, Deep South thing, where your grandmother is also your cousin, and you are your own nephew! So, with the tune from Deliverance Banjo duet playing in my head, I switch off the car and just sigh and smile. Cheetahs.
And not one, but four of them. Mom and cubs!
Eventually another car arrives, and I hang out half mast through the car window, in my excitement that my eyesight is actually not as bad as I thought, and enthusiastically pointed out the four cheetahs. All lying flat, can barely see them. So we settle in for the duration, because at some point one of them must surely go to the bathroom?
Then the lady in the other car drives parallel to me, and asks me, she bought a new camera, and do I know which camera setting one uses to get the Cheetah to come out of the shade? My answer in my head was, yes, of course, turn the dial on the camera to raw meat, and then point it in the direction of the cheetahs. But that was in my head. In fact I was a bit worried about the lady, as her eyes were watering terribly. Now I am not sure if it was with emotion, to finally see a cheetah, or if she should rather stick to the Kruger Park, where they have tar and not dust roads.
But, eventually she leaves, and not 5 minutes later, the cheetahs get up! I slam Bullet into reverse, again nearly take out two dunes, and half a plantation of whatever bush that was, and so I ran with the Cheetahs! Truly! In reverse! And I got some lovely shots. Cheetah walking. Cheetah walking still. O look, Cheetah walking! And then Cheetah sleeping 2 km further down, under a duplicate shade tree!
O well, all ends well that is well? No, all is well that ends? Bugger, you know what I mean.
Lunch time saw me back at camp with a duet tan going on on my face. Half burnt, the other half very light white! And, there stands a Nomad truck! In the Kgalagadi! I must tell you, white contrasts very nicely with the red sand dunes! It was a truck on a charter tour, but luckily the driver, Richard, could come check out Blue bullet and the V8 sound. He gets under the car, with about 30 bystanders cheering on, and it seems there is a hole in the silencer! And, more bad new, Blue Bullet is going through a slight identity crisis! Reason, she lost her Registration number plate! This part Richard asked me very politely: “Boss lady, where is the Number plate?” So I explain about the hell road, and also the Kgalagadi roads, and he says, but is Bullet then 4×4? I could hear a faint sniff coming from Bullet at that point.
So, number plate-less, I venture back into the park. And saw a side striped Jackal! Either that, or a very Mangy looking black backed Jackal. I am hoping for the side stripe, it is rather rare to see. So, as I am minding my own business, taking photos of said sick black backed, or rare side striped, another 4 wheel drive car approaches at the speed of light, or rather much more than the allowed 40km per hour. Then the driver slams on brakes, creates a dust cloud like Hiroshima would not believe, and looks around. Then he asks me, what am I seeing. Now, right underneath his nose, possibly with its tail caught under his tyres, is the Jackal. Which I meekly point out. O, he says, its just a jackal. He has been looking for a Lion the whole day, and still have not found one. I thought to myself, if that is how you drive, and you can’t even see a jackal under your nose, chances are you drove by a whole assembly of Lions! But again, wisely, I kept that to myself!
So, the bottom line, boys and girls, is that we all learnt a lot today! Demons can live in Geckos, and then spit. Cheetahs sleep with the wrong ones. If you drive too fast, you park on Jackals, who in turn won’t tell you where the big Lion party is being held that evening!
My day ended with another insect attack! This time it was done in full frontal attack mode, on the entire bush front Chalets! While I was busy battling a swarm of bees, the Dutch family next door was busy chasing them with a bath towel, and the Americans two chalets down, were just bemoaning the fact that one just can’t control wildlife anymore these days! I have to admit, I was screaming a bit like a girl. Sorry.
I got the bees out, had a nice piece of sheep, and started looking forward to tomorrow.
My sighting list add-ons:
Four Cheetahs. Did I mention I saw cheetahs? Yes, four.
Two very close Ostriches. Not close to me, close to each other.
Dark chanting Goshawk.
Pale chanting Goshawk.
Blue Heron (water bird, but seemingly one with identity crisis as well)
Spingboks and springbok babies! Very very cute
Side striped Jackal.
And I did see one Black backed as well. Or then, one healthy and one sick Black backed Jackal
One Nomad truck, with emotional Spanish Tour Leader.
One Agama foot, still kicking.
Did I mention about the four Cheetahs?
O, how could I forget! Tree climbing mice! Beyond adorable! They hang like Kite surfers on three different branches and try to get the seeds on the bush! Then the wind pulls one of the branches to one side, so then the poor mouse stretches like bubblegum and eventually just ! Hundreds of them on bushes! Looked like the Chinese Lantern festival!
That’s it for today, tomorrow the adventure continues!
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to do this tour with us, have a look at the itinerary for the 9 Day, Karoo, Kalahari and West Coast Tour and book as soon as possible!