2 July 2012
Earl had a bad night of hot and cold shivers and this morning his temperature was up. I gave him some breakfast and dosed him with medication and ordered him to stay in bed until we’d got everything packed and were ready to go. He did not argue and only got showered and ready at the last minute. It was, of course, freezing and as you can imagine all he wanted to do was stay cuddled up in bed.
To make things more miserable for my darling husband, it was his 68th birthday! As he settled into the passenger seat we all broke into the birthday song and managed to get a weak smile out of him.
We made some last minute purchases from the Nossob shop – beer and wine which we could not get yesterday because it was Sunday! Earl had his camera and binoculars on his lap, ready for any eventuality.
The first waterhole we came to had some gemsbok and wildebeest activity,there were birds fluttering around and then a flock of Namaqua sandgrouse made an appearance.
The next waterhole also produced a herd of wildebeest.
I kept up a steady pace of between 40 and 50 km an hour stopping only for the most exciting birds and game. Gharagab was a hard 160km away and I really wanted to get Earl into bed. Soon we saw a stationary car ahead and one facing the opposite direction. What could they have seen. We could not get past as they were blocking the way. Then I saw ears right next to us. The car ahead of us went forward and turned around to get a better view. We moved on as more cars were backing up behind us. When we looked back Earl managed to get a reasonable photograph. We would not have seen it if the guy opposite had not spotted it first. This is how easily you can miss an animal who is the same colour as the grass!
Near Union’s End we stopped at a picnic spot and met up with the people I’d chatted to at reception yesterday. The young woman ran up to us and related a scary tale. “We arrived after dark and Eric rushed to tell us not to get out of our car. There was a lioness with cubs right outside one of our huts. We parked the cars between them and one of the huts and managed to get in. Our friend could not get to his hut – he had to sleep with us.” This meant that she and her hubby had to share a narrow single bed! “When the guys went to the car to fetch our food, I just prayed that they wouldn’t be eaten. The lions remained where the were the whole night and roared. It was really scary!”
I can imagine! There are reasons why you are not allowed to arrive at camp after dark. It’s just too dangerous. these people had not given themselves enough time to get to their destination. When we soon after that got onto the 4×4 track I could only imagine how awful it must have been driving it in the dark.
Earl was not a happy passenger with me behind the wheel but I made a meal of it. I pretended to tear up the dunes, making all the appropriate sound effects. My passengers giggled hysterically in the back but he was not amused. It was fun and Earl was really very good with his instructions of how to manage the tricky parts.
We disturbed lots of little birds – mainly larks – but photography was not really possible. Eventually we arrived at about 2:30 and were greeted by the tourist assistant, Eric who pointed out all the rules of safety to us.
Our bungalows were partially canvas but with wooden floors an open plan kitchen and a small shower and loo section. There were only 4 altogether and we had number 1 and 2. There was a deck with a table and two camp chairs with a stunning view of the waterhole. We were ecstatic. Poor Earl went straight to bed and I put a walkie talkie at his bedside so he could call me whenever the need arose – quite often I might add!
After seeing to Earl’s needs, Peter, Heather and I sat down with a cup of soup and slice of bread and began to enjoy our new environment. We were in HEAVEN.
The birdlife was prolific and we enjoyed watching, sociable weavers, Acacia Pied Barbet, Kalahari scrub-robin, chestnut-vented titbablers, namaqua doves, ashy tits and many others. And of course the raptors flew in from time to time too.
The first mammals to visit the waterhole were a large herd of springbok. It was interesting to watch them file down in an orderly manner, circle the waterhole, interact with each other and then drink in turns. They young males were frisky and made a nuisance of themselves until the older ones put them in their place.
Some time later a single eland appeared. This is a species we’d never seen in Kgalagadi before so it was nice of him to pay us a visit.
Not wanting to be caught far from my own bungalow after dark, I cooked an early spaghetti bolognaise supper and was back at my own deck by 6 o’clock. It was great having the walkie talkies so I could still chat to Heather and Peter without shouting across to them. Heather had never seen a brown hyena and all she wanted was for one to appear at the waterhole. Eric came around to chat to the guests and she mentioned this to him. “Well,” he said, “If you look over there you will see one coming to drink right now.” And sure enough a lovely one calmly trotted down to quench his thirst. The light had gone so the photograph is a bit grainy. But he was not the last to appear and so a good picture will be posted later.
The flood light was not working so staying up late to watch for game was not worth it. The temperature dropped and we were soon snuggled up for a peaceful night. No lions roared to scare the wits out of us.