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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 12 Mata Mata Day 2

14 March 2016

Mata Mata Camp offered way more luxury than the unfenced rustic Rooiputs.  Showering in the morning was now possible and Lady Peigh and Mrs Leigh were first up and finished at the ablution block before the other campers awoke.  Now they had to check out of camp and the gate attendant did not open the office till 6:30 on the dot!

Mr and Mrs Frend-Leigh was first out the gate and indicated to the Grum-Peighs that they were following lion tracks.   They followed them to 14th Waterhole but the cats were not there.  A return to Dalkeith produced no luck either.

Clearly the lions had killed the previous night as they found a tawny eagle eating their leftovers.    It then flew up into a tree to join its friend and they got some photos.

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It was also good to see giraffe about.  The leopard was nowhere to be found.

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Back at camp the Earl cooked breakfast.

In the afternoon they all went out again.  Nothing much was seen but a common buzzard was nice to see.

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Other birds gave them pleasure too.

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Red-headed finch

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White-faced scops owl

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Wattled Starling

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Lilac-breasted Roller

So after a rather slow day they returned to camp and enjoyed a meal together before retiring for the night.

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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 9 – Where is that Leopard?

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This morning’s game drive found  Lord and Lady Grum-Peigh back at Kij Kij in search of the lioness and her cubs.  They found them in the company of two adult lions.  One of them was a young male.  They must have been drinking at Kij Kij but by the time they arrived there they were on the Rooiputs side of the WH.  They played for a bit and then made their way over the ridge – the opposite way to the previous day.

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There was nothing much to see other than kori bustards and other birds further on toward Melkvlei.  Then the Earl and Her Ladyship turned around and went to Twee Rivieren to refuel.   On the way they had lovely sightings of the smaller things.  They saw two yellow mongooses hunting and one caught a mouse!  There were also two slender mongoose and the two species didn’t seem to want to share territory.

“What’s that jackal up to,” said Lady G-P He was howling and looking quite agitated. “There must be a cheetah or a lion about – that’s how they behave when they want to get at the left overs from a kill”  The jackal was staring into a tree but in spite of a thorough search Lord and Lady G-P couldn’t see anything so they continued on their way.

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At Twee Rivieren they filled up then went to the restaurant where they took advantage of the internet access and caught up with emails and messages.  The shop had no fresh produce they nipped off to Kgalagadi lodge and bought some cauliflower and broccoli, pattipans, cucumber, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

The Frend-Leighs decided to pop there too and they met up with them on their way back to TR.   The Leighs reported that there was a leopard in a tree between Leeudril and Rooiputs.   That’s what the jackal must have been agitating about.

On their return trip to Rooipust they found the site of the leopard but were told by Jan (a young man from the Cheque Republic who was camping on their site)  that they’d just missed her in the tree.  She’s jumped down and was definitely in the undergrowth under the tree but she was impossible to see. They waited half an hour but it was very hot so they left her in peace with a promise of coming back later.

At Rooiputs waterhole there were 4 Secretary birds.

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The late afternoon found them back searching for the leopard.   En route they were amused by the meerkats.

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There were a number of cars looking into the tree but nobody could see anything.  The Earl wanted to move on but Her Ladyship persuaded him to be patient.   Finally they were rewarded when all of a sudden the leopard emerged from his hiding place and began moving.

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His nap was over and he was off on a mission

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What a beauty

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I wonder if I’ll find a snack anywhere here?

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Nothing much happening – think I’ll sit here for a while

After walking off along the dunes the leopard flopped down for a rest then got up again and disappeared over the dunes.

“Another wonderful ending to a great day,” said Lady G-P

 

 

 

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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