Sunday 30 December 2012

Kgalagadi: September 2009 (Part 9)

It's time to finish up this trip report as I've got many more to share!

We awoke to our last full day in the Kgalagadi for this trip. There were some wonderfully streaky cirrus clouds in the sky, and I was hoping to make use of that to capture some interesting landscapes and animals-in-habitat photos. We made sure to pack up everything early and took a leisurely drive south towards our last overnight stop in the Park - Urikaruus Wilderness Camp. More info on all the accomodation on the South African side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park can be found HERE.

Here are some images from that morning:

At the 14th Borehole waterhole we found some Kudu. They do occur here but are rarely seen and mostly in the northern Nossob river towards Botswana. The Kalahari Kudus are also quite on the brown side, as opposed to the distinctly grey variant found in the Kruger/Lowveld area of South Africa.

This herd consisted mostly of females, but 2 of them were engaged in what appeared to be mock-fighting a-la-male antelopes...weird...

The road in general was quiet in terms of wildlife on this day, and I so wanted to capture an animal on one of the dunes or calcrete ridges with this backdrop of stunning clouds. Close to Urikaruus, around midday, I got my chance. A lone wildebeest stepped onto the calcrete ridge on the Namibian side...and posed nicely for us.

This next photo has become an icon in my portfolio. It was awarded a "Highly Commended" in the 2010 BBC Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, and has done very well in various local competitions and photographic salons. I knew this would be a monochrome conversion the moment I took the photo. For the photographically inclined - this photo was taken with an entry level DSLR and an 18-55mm kit lens. The photos you capture are more about your vision than the gear you use!

It also looks nice in vivid colour...

Urikaruus is a lovely camp. It consists of 4 wooden lofted minimalist-style chalets overlooking a waterhole in the Auob river. We spent a very cold night here, and cruised towards Twee Rivieren the next day, and headed on home. Our last 2 drives didn't yield much, but here are a few photos from our last drives to close out this trip report. Thanks for following along, and I hope you tune in for all the trip reports I am lagging behind on...some interesting experiences to come!

Morkel Erasmus

Thursday 20 December 2012

Kgalagadi: September 2009 (Part 8)

Let's carry on with this trip report, shall we?

We spent our last night in Nossob and headed out on a quick game drive the next morning before we had to break up our camp. We had heard lions roaring to the south early in the morning and set off towards the Marie-se-gat waterhole. We found lots of tracks around the waterhole...but no lions there...

After driving around the area scanning the foliage vigorously - we got one glimpse of a lone lioness...

She promptly disappeared, and we wondered if she had small cubs in the area. We then did a quick trip north towards Cubitje Quap waterhole. This Bateleur eagle checked us out.

This waterhole is a great place to photograph the droves of doves and sandgrouse that come to drink in the mornings. This was where we had the Lanner Falcon sighting the previous morning.

A Black-Backed Jackal came for a drink. He eyed the birds briefly, but didn't try to hunt any of them.

We went back to camp to break down our tents and pack up the camp. We made it out in time for check-out time and set off on the long road over to the Auob river again. This night would be spent in the Mata-Mata rest camp.

On the way to the Upper Dune Road we had the surprise of the trip...a Honey Badger crossed the road!! These are very rare to see in broad daylight, though the Kalahari is one place where you can expect to see them like this...

As we pulled up to the point where they crossed we saw some more next to the road, ready to cross!

That was one exhilarating sighting! They are such characters.
We stopped for a quick refreshment at the Dikbaardskolk picnic spot...

Here are some more sights we saw on the way up to Mata-Mata.


Lanner Falcon:



(I zoomed out while taking this photo with a slow shutter speed to get this effect - no fancy Photoshop here)

Verreaux's Eagle Owl:

We got to Mata-Mata safely, and unpacked (this time in a chalet). Later that afternoon we set off on a quick drive south towards the Dalkeith waterhole.

This young Goshawk was gorging on a snake it had caught in the shade of a roadside tree.

We also found another Verreaux's Eagle Owl (formerly Giant Eagle Owl).

How about another Bateleur?

As we started to head back to the camp...I noticed a familiar shape sticking out of the long grass against the setting sun...

A solitary male lion was gorging on something he had caught.

The setting and light here made it seem like a scene from the movie The Ghost and the Darkness (about the man-eater lions of Tsavo in Kenya).

He got up and walked over the dune...

We went back to camp when he was out of sight...and enjoyed a nice meal and a good rest. The following day would be our last full day in the Kgalagadi on this trip...

Stay tuned for more...

Morkel Erasmus