Here is my contribution to this weeks’s One word photo challenge
It rained in the night and it was still dripping when the Grum-Peighs woke up at 5:30 am. Fortunately it stopped enough for them to pack up in relative comfort.
They bade farewell to the Leighs and were ready to exit Mata Mata by 6:30. They took a slow drive to Twee Rivieren not expecting too much in the way of sightings as after rain the game don’t need to come to the water holes.
However, they were in luck. They found their Port Shepstone neighbors stopped and staring into the bush. “There’s a lioness on a kill,” they told the G-Ps. And sure enough there she was under a tree chewing away. To her right Lady G-P spotted another one – obviously she’d had her fill. A few jackal were waiting on the sideline too.
After watching for a while they pushed on and saw all the usuals including giraffes
and then her Ladyship noticed something small running across the veld.
Another unusual sighting for KTP
All too soon they arrived at Twee Rivieren, pumped the types back to their normal pressure and then went to Kgalagadi Lodge for breakfast.
Feeling fortified with fresh energy they sadly let the Kgalagadi behind and made their way to Oranjerus, a lovely, shady, grassy campsite next to the Orange River where they spent the night.
They dined at the restaurant with a fellow camper and so ended their wonderful Wild Adventure.
“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.
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.
Then the lions were up and making their way to the waterhole as if to say – hey – nobody drinks from here but us!
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!”
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!”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
A kori bustard entertained them by showing them how to take a dust bath.
When 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.
At Melkvlei waterhole there were lots of gemsbok.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
On the return journey the Grum-Peighs stop for every bird. Ho-Hum!
The highlight was seeing a cobra try to invade a sociable weaver nest.
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.
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
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.
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.
Travelling with an Earl can have its trying moments. His Lordship has firm ideas how things should be done and when things don’t go exactly according to plan he tends to shoot into stress mode. Packing up camp is a trigger so Lady Grum-Peigh has to encourage him to calm down to a panic and remind him that it will all come together in the end! On this morning all her reassuring seemed to work and all was packed up in a jiffy except for one thing!
“Don’t you have to put the leveling legs up first?” asked Lady Peigh. Uh oh! A few minutes of rapid unpacking and repacking later and all was set. The caravan was hitched to the towbar and by 7:40 am they were on their way to Rooiputs.
Luckily the rain from the early hours had abated and it was a stunning, clear day. The birds at Samevloeing cheered the Earl up and gave Her Ladyship great photo opportunities.
Next was a tawny eagle in a tree.
Mr Frend-Leigh had marked out an area where he thought the Grum-Peighs should park their caravan – this was to optimise the best afternoon shade. The setting up went well and just as they finished the Frend-Leighs returned from their early morning drive..
Here is the Earl in front of the caravan – all set up and ready for their 8-day stay.
It was very hot and Lady Peigh felt drained and exhausted. Although it was unusual for her and it was only midday, she decided to take a nap. The wind got up too and shook the caravan like a leaf. The Earl worked hard to secure the tent pole and ropes while she slept on for the next three hours! Finally she woke up and gave in to His Lordship’s pleas to go for an afternoon drive.
“Oh look, even the lions don’t feel like doing anything in this heat.” said Lady Peigh. “Don’t even take a photo – too boring.” They left them dozing and carried on up the Nossob road. All the game – wildebeest, springbok, red hartebeest and gemsbok – were standing or lying under whichever shady tree they could find. The landscape was dry but there had been a little rain so there were patches of green and lots of lovely yellow flowers from time to time.
“Look at Melkvlei,” said Lord Peigh, “Quite a difference from last year.”
After a leg stretch and loo break at the picnic site they retraced their route towards Rooiputs.
“What’s happening now,” said the Earl. “those springbok are stock-still and all looking in the same direction.” T
The bokkies gathered together and nervously crossed the road. The Earl scanned the dunes and soon spotted two cheetahs on the ridge.
The Grump-Peighs carried on until another vehicle alerted them to another sighting further on.
Remember the snoozing lions from the beginning of the trip? Well that’s where they met up with the Frend-Leighs who had only left camp an after they had. Their cameras trained on the felines who were still in dreamland.
“Let’s go,” said His Lordship. “I don’t feel like watching sleeping lions.”
“Give it five minutes,” begged his wife. “I’m sure they’ll wake up soon.”
The words were no sooner cold on her lips when one of the females stoop up and started walking toward them. One by one the others followed but the male remained hidden behind his tree.
What a brilliant sighting.
Although they were in an unfenced camp they were expected to stick to the gate times – out at 6:30 am and back by 7 pm in March. They made it by 17 minutes and then enjoyed a spectacular sunset.
The wind had dropped and they enjoyed a delicious braai before retiring for the night.