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Wild Adventure Chapter 13

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15 March

Lady Grum-Peigh was first in the queue with the Frend-Leighs close behind.  She raced out of the office, permit in hand and jumped into the Land Rover.  “We’ve beaten our friends!” said the Earl excitedly.  “We’ll be the first to see the lions!”

“Slow down,”said her Ladyship.  “You’ll miss the good stuff on the way!” He ignored her and gleefully overtook the campers from Kalahari Tented Camp who’d got out first.

Then suddenly a wild cat appeared and crossed the road in front of them.   The Earl screeched the breaks and yelled instructions to his poor wife but she still missed the photo! The kitty toddled off into the veld.  The Earl turned the vehicle and said, “Keep the camera on him.” Tufts of grass kept hiding him preventing good shots.  The Earl was furious.   “Why didn’t you get him – he was right there!”

“Did you get any?” asked Lady G-P calmly.

“No!”
“Well, he was on your side of the car!”
“But I was driving!”
“I’m tired of you yelling at me I’m getting out right here!”

“Well don’t let the hyena get you,” said the Earl and there right next to her door she spotted him and they both burst out laughing.

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Come out and play, Lady G-P – I won’t eat you.

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Look at my innocent eyes

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Oh well – I guess I’ll have to find somebody else

Other cars including the Frend-Leighs were now ahead of them so the Earl slowed down and enjoyed the birdlife.

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A secretary bird marching determinedly through the veldt

There were no lions or cheetahs at the waterholes but they saw tawnies on the kill.

 

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They made breakfast at Kamqua picnic site and then  made their way back.  There was a sleeping lion near Dalkeith but otherwise no big cats.

But the other creatures seen were fun.

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Rock Kestrel

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Pin-tailed Whydah

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Brown Snake Eagle

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Common Buzzard

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A Journey of Giraffe

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Wildebeest competing with Butterflies for a drinking rights

Back at camp they had a salad for lunch, the Earl had a nap, Lady G-P did some chores and Mrs Leigh prepped lamb stew for dinner. She and Mr Leigh went out again later in the afternoon but the G-Ps stayed to pack up as, sadly, it was our last night in the park.

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Wild Adventure Chapter 11 Off to Mata Mata

13 March 2016

By 6:30 the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs are packed up and ready to leave Rooiputs.  Although it had stormed in the night it kindly let up for them to pack up without getting wet.

The Frend-Leighs left first as they wanted to get a good site at Mata Mata.  Their large-lensed cameras were packed so they wouldn’t be stopping for anything but the most exciting sightings.

The Grum-Peighs were thus able to follow at a more leisurely pace.  There was a lot of water lying around and they found bokkies drinking at the puddles.  They took the dune road and found a total of 16 korhaans.

Then there was a lovely sighing  Mom and Dad Jackal with their pup.

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It was great to see giraffe on the Mata Mata road and there was plenty of game around.

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“Why are there cars parked up ahead,” called Lady G-P. They looked into the bush but couldn’t see anything.  The Lord G-P said – “Look – there in the tree – leopard!

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Wow – what a great sighting.  They were about to move on when suddenly he stood up on the branch.

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I don’t think I like this spot anymore

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Let me find a more comfortable perch

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There’s a cosy hollow here – this is where I’m staying for the rest of the day

At 10:30 they arrived at Mata Mata and set up camp.  The Frend-Leighs had found a lovely shady site.

At 4:30 the Grum-Peighs were ready for another drive but the Leighs decided not to go out. It was a long way to the waterholes but the drive was rewarding.

 

They enjoyed the  little steenbok that were about and one chose to pose beautifully.

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The highlight of the afternoon was seeing a lanner at Dalkeith – he had caught a sparrow and was devouring it on the ground.

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At 14th waterhole they were delighted to find an African harrier-hawk.

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They found the leopard in the tree again but he had moved and was difficult to see. However, they managed to point him out to two other cars who were most grateful as they had not yet seen leopard.

In the evening the Earl found some good steaks at the new improved Mata Mata shop and that is what they had on the braai for supper.

 

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Wild Adventure Chapter 10 Last day at Rooiputs

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12 March

“What will today, hold in store for us, I  wonder?” said Lady Grum-Peigh as they climbed into the Land Rover for their morning drive.  “It’s our last day at Rooiputs and boy, I’m going to miss it!”
They headed straight to Kij Kij arriving around 7 ish.  “Oh look there!” called the Earl. “Two male lions!”  That was a wonderful surprise. They were lying a little way off from the waterhole, one on each side of the road.

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One of the big boys

Suddenly Mr Frend-Leigh started his Pathfinder and raced toward them.  “It’s a brown hyena,” said the Earl excitedly. And they weaved through the parked cars to get a better view.  But the poor creature was spooked by seeing the lions and instead of going for his morning drink he headed away and up a dune.

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Oh no! What are those two doing here.  I’m off!

Then the lions were up and making their way to the waterhole as if to say – hey – nobody drinks from here but us!

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After the lions had had a good long drink they moved off into the shade and settled down for a long morning nap. The G-Ps and Leighs went on towards Melkvlei.

“What’s moving over there – oh great – Bat-eared fox!”

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Posing for his portrait at last

One of the foxes stopped and stared straight at them. “At last you’re posing for me, you elusive creature,” said Lady G-P who had seen a few but not managed to get any decent photographs.

There was a lot of game about and they saw many kori bustards and jackals.   “That eagle looks different,” called the Earl

“It’s a tawny,” said Lady Peigh “The blond version!”

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At Melkvlei Lord Peigh cooked a delicious Banting Breakfast but the Leighs continued on a bit further preferring to have muesli in the car a little later. They also had a lot of packing up to do so would return to the lions and then head home.

After breakfast the Grum-Peighs took a slow drive and enjoyed all the usual game and birds.   Then about 1 km from Rooiputs the Earl said, “Look at those gemsbok.  They’re standing stock still – there must be a predator somewhere close.”  They scanned the dunes with their binoculars – Nada.  Then her ladyship dropped her eye to a lower level and nearly fell out of the window – “They’re right there,” she whispered “under the tree.”

“What? where?” whined his Lordship.

“They’re so well camouflaged – three cheetahs – in the shade just where the gemsbok are standing.”

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A very wary gemsbok keeps a close eye on the cheetahs

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One lifts her head to see what all the fuss is about

His lordship finally finds them and is amazed at how well they could hide.

At about 5 that afternoon they returned to the spot with the Frend-Leighs.  They were on the move and then they flopped down under a tree.  They stayed with them hoping they would get up to go to the waterhole but they had to leave at quarter to 7 to get in before dark.

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Thinking about getting up

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I could do with a drink

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I love you dear cheetah

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They returned to camp and Mrs Frend-Leigh took out the leftover chili con cairn and they shared the meal with Jan.  Everything was packed up as far as possible for departure to Mata Mata the next morning and then they turned in for the night.

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Wild Adventure Chapter 7 The Earl Helps a Distressed Car at a Lion Sighting

9 MARCH

The day started with a lanner.  This is a common bird in the KTP and the Grum-Peighs often see them chasing and catching doves. But this one decided to show off to them on the road.  He was eating insects or getting minerals from the gravel or whatever attracts all the creatures of the park to this habit.  Anyway he posed beautifully.

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After enjoying the lanner they pushed on to Kij Kij and found a beautiful male lion drinking at the waterhole.  They then followed him as he walked off toward the Nossob road.   Several cars were parked facing the waterhole and he flopped down in their shadows.   Eventually they decided that enough was enough and set off in search of other game

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A kori bustard entertained them by showing them how to take a dust bath.

IMG_6213IMG_6215IMG_6216When there is little game to be seen the G-Ps keep a sharp eye out for birds.  Even the little familiar chat is good to see.

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At Melkvlei waterhole there were lots of gemsbok.

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On their return they found the male lion sleeping in the shade of a tree. Lady G-P aimed her camera but suddenly the car started moving forward.  “Hey – I’m trying to get a shot,”she complained.

“But this guy in front is calling me to chat to him,” replied the Earl.

He pulled up next to the hired four by four.   “I’m so sorry,”said a British voice “But I stopped here to see this lion and now my car is dead!”  There were two men and two women in the vehicle and they all looked terrified.

“Don’t worry,” said Lady G-P, “My husband will fix it.” She has great confidence in her her husband’s MacGyver type skills.

The Earl turned the car around  with a view to jump starting his dead car.  “Just keep an eye on Leo.”said His Lordship as he climbed up and opened a rooftop box to retrieve his tools.  “He’s sitting up!” yelled Lady Peigh. But her hero was not fazed.   He took out all the tools he needed and passed them to her.

“He’s standing up now!” Lady Peigh was getting nervous. Leo sniffed the air and decided the smell of his Lordship was not to his liking and dropped down again and went back to sleep!

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Leo licked his lips as he contemplated an earl for dinner

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Nope – not worth the effort – think I’ll have another nap instead

The Earl decided that caution was the better part of valour and quickly hitched the tow rope to the distressed vehicle and towed him to a safer spot.   The car did not start while being towed but when they stopped the Earl found that it was a loose connection and fixed it pronto.

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The First Earl of Struisbaai using his MacGyver skills

The British tourist were most grateful.  They had no tools in the hired vehicle and were quite unprepared for any mishap.   Lady G-P would never travel without her personal handyman.

They went back to look at the lion and wait for the Frend-Leighs and then took a slow drive home finding a pale chanting goshawk and a few  ground squirrels on the way.

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Isn’t he beautiful

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On guard and ready to warn his friends of pending danger

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Wild Adventure Chapter 6 Lions at Kij Kij

8 March

The advantage of staying in a bush camp on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is that there are fewer people in camp and one really gets to commune with nature – it’s living on the edge as there is always a chance that a wild creature could wander past your caravan or tent.  This is what the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs love about Camp Rooiputs Number 2.   It is also closer to the water holes so you get to them before the crowds from Twee Rivieren arrive.  But Rooiputs has the added advantage of being close enough to Twee Rivieren so that when you need to replenish your stocks it’s a quick trip there and back.  On this particular morning the friends decide to check out the Kij Kij Waterhole nice and early and then take the long dune road that connects to another road that takes you to TR.  The plan is then to leave the park and shop at the Kgalagadi Lodge shop – and have breakfast at their restaurant.  There is nothing as good as mixing a bit of rustic living with luxury now and then!

And they are well rewarded when they get to Kij Kij and find some frolicking lions.

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Good Morning Kgalagadi

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This is fun!

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Come on let’s play!

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Time to go!

The Dune Road is very long and bendy and can be boring but today a honey badger rushed over the road in front of them and they saw 19 Northern Black Korhaan

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The best of the bunch

On the return journey the Grum-Peighs stop for every bird.  Ho-Hum!

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A lesser grey shrike

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The ever-present tawny eagle

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Southern Masked weaver and Lark-like Bunting

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Male and female red-headed finch

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Grey-backed sparrowlark

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Male red-headed finch

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Immature Pale Chanting Goshawk

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Jackal

The highlight was seeing a cobra try to invade a sociable weaver nest.

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In the evening the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs had another delicious braai.  There was no sign of stormy weather and the sunset was magnificent.

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The Earl and The Friend bonding in front of the fire

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Sunset

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Camp Rooiputs Number 2 at night

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Wild Adventure Chapter 5 After the Storm

After experiencing a fairly wild and stormy night with thunder and lightening interrupting their dreams and the caravan rocking like a row-boat on a rough sea the Grum-Peighs woke up and went out to assess the damage. Neither they nor the Frend-Leighs needed any major repairs. The rain had gone and the weather was calm so after a slightly later than usual start they set off on their morning drive.

First up was a beautiful Martial Eagle

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Their breakfast stop was at Melkvlei.  Lord Grum-Peigh loves to cook eggs and bacon on his special camping stove. Lady G-P makes sure he has the right pans and ingredients and is ready to follow his demanding instructions.  The results are always delicious.

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The animals were scarce as is often the case after a storm.  They seem to move deeper into the bush and find water in puddles rather than trekking to the waterholes.  So all they saw was the following.

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This meerkat found a wonderful platform right outside the camp – a good vantage point to spot potential danger.

 

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A tiny tortoise

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And a giant one

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Bokkies of course

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Having a confrontation

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Lanner Falcon

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Camp Rooiputs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wild Adventure Chapter 4 Cheetahs and Lions

“It can’t be time to get up yet,” complained Lord Grum-Peigh  “It’s still dark!”

“It will be light soon and we need to get out before the Twee Rivieren Mob arrive – come on get up – here’s your coffee.”   Her Ladyship packed the picnic basket and filled the flask while her grumbly husband reluctantly readied himself for departure.

The sunrise was just a stunning as last night’s sunset and they were on the road atn6:30 am on the dot.  The campers from the other five sites were rushing off too.  The Frend-Leighs  always keen to be first at the waterhole to ensure good photographs were up ahead.  As the Grum-Peighs followed slowly behind a fellow camper passed and waved to them to stop.  “Your left front tyre looks a little soft,” he said.

And so they had to turn around and return to camp to check it out.  The Earl who fusses about the small stuff was remarkably calm about this major disaster. He set straight to work.   Getting the tyre off proved no easy task.  The thingy that is used to loosen the bolts was faulty but the Earl made a plan and within 45 minutes the job was done.

Now when one travels in the extreme conditions of the Kgalagadi one would be foolish not to have a working spare so the Grum-Peighs decided to abandon their original plans and make their way to Twee Rivieren where there was a workshop to have the spare tyre repaired. And although it was a Sunday it was open.

After enjoying a cooked breakfast at the restaurant they took the long Mata Mata and Dune roads to get back to Rooiputs. “Hopefully we will see game on this route,” declare the Lord.

Lady Grum-Peigh had an acute attack of FOMO (fear of missing out). “I bet the Leighs have found  yesterday’s lions on a kill and that the cheetahs are mating or giving birth  or something equally exciting.”she whined.
“No way,”comforted the Earl “we’re going to see good stuff.”

And he was right.  “Look what we have here,”he said excitedly.

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Tawny Eagle

A little later they found a male lion right next to the road

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Then a little far off under a shady tree lay a cheetah with its kill.  It was not worth taking a photograph though.

The Grum-Peighs are more interested in the birdlife and tend to stop too long to observe the winged creatures that others choose to ignore.

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One of their favourites is the Namaqua Dove

Of course they also saw all the regular chaps.  Gemsbok (Oryx) are very common in the park.

IMG_5666Meanwhile the Leighs had been wandering what happened to their friends.  Had they missed them at a sighting? Had they carried on to the planned breakfast stop?  But no they couldn’t find them anywhere.  “They’re either behind or in front of us,” said Mr Frend-Leigh – don’t worry we’ll catch up with each other eventually.”

So when they finally did see each other back at camp they were shocked to hear that there had been a mishap.  “We would have come back to help!” they declared.

“Then you would also have missed the excitement,” said Lady G-P

“Ha – we only got sleeping cats – nothing too thrilling!”

The two men got to work fixing the faulty thingy while the girls caught up with washing and then they all had a nap before going out for the afternoon drive.

It was 5 o’clock and still hot and they hoped to get the sleeping lions waking up.  There was a little action but they were still pretty sleepy.

Then a police car stopped next to the G-Ps “Good afternoon, sir.  How are you this afternoon?”

Lady G-P thought they were going to ask for their permit and started reaching for it.  But no – “Ma’m about 3km further on, you will find a cheetah.  He is on his own and has been there since 1 pm this afternoon.”

“Thank you so much officer.  We will check it out!”

Just before they reached the 3km mark, Lady Peigh yelled, “I see him.”

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It was overcast and a storm was threatening so the light was dim and if she hadn’t been looking intently she would probably have missed him.  Then suddenly he disappeared. “Has he gone over the ridge?”

“No – there he is!” said Lord Peigh.  “He’s lying down – how well he camouflages!”

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They stayed with him until a car approached and then pointed him out to the occupant.  It took quite a while before he could find him.

Back at the lion sighting very little was happening. Mr Leigh pointed out a striped kingfisher in a tree opposite and then they decided to make their way back before it got too late.

The Leighs  pointed out the Vereaux’s Eagle-Owl and that was the last sighting of their day.

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