Day 3 –
L: Something that you don’t expect to hear in a national animal park is a crowing cock, but that is what woke us…… We slept in our little Malamoo Xtra 3-second tent for the first time. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised as it was a lot more comfortable than I thought with the blow-up mattress to help. I had thought that Steve would be too tall for it. The one drawback, that the Australians neglected from their design, is that when you unzip the front door-flap all the dew drops fall on you as well as on to the foot of the bed……
We took a bit longer to get going as we had to catch up on our missed sleep, but after breakfast and a nice shower we set out into the park.
S: There was a lot of expectation on this first day, from me at least, with having heard so much about the many lions in the park. We headed up the Nossob road at a steady speed of 30km/h. Any faster and you would not see anything. As expected there were a lot of buck around with springbok and gemsbok being the majority. Nice fat and juicy ones for the many lions we were going to see. It turned out that they are extremely elusive. Our camping neighbours went out the afternoon we arrived, during the storm, and saw some lions. If only we had done the same.
However all was not lost. After we had stopped for some lunch and coffee we headed north again. It was not more than a kilometre, when we came upon three cheetah. They were trying to hunt a springbok, but I think they were a little too far away and the springbok were aware of them. After a while they seemed to give up the hunt. L: The place where we had stopped to have lunch has a nicely secure bathroom to protect you from predators, but the picnic site itself is not even fenced…….fast forward to a little while later and one km further where we saw the cheetahs and you wonder whether we could have been lunch!!
S: For Lesley the bird life left her in euphoria. I cannot count the number of times we stopped the first day to take photos of the feathered variety. I must have the patience of Job. But Lesley was having the time of her life. Kori Bustard, Secretary bird, Tawny Eagle, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Crimson-breasted shrike, Black-chested snake eagle to name a few.
Then there were the smaller creatures. Black-backed jackal and Cape ground squirrel. We saw an interesting interaction between a puff-adder and a family of ground squirrels. They seemed to be chasing it away from their place because it eventually came out into the road where we were able to take some good photos.
All in all we were out of camp for about seven hours and it was a couple of very tired tourists that rolled into camp that night. It is rather tiring driving along so slowly and concentrating hard just in case you might miss something. Seeing the cheetah was the highlight and that was only because they were on the move. Once they had returned to their resting place and flopped down, they were almost invisible.
All in all a very satisfying day.
Day 4 – The next day we started out a lot earlier and headed up the same road in the direction of Nossob. L: We met a lovely couple, Mike and Jenny from Grabouw who saw how packed we were and asked where we were going…..When they heard our destination they were very interested and said that they would pray for us and wished us well. We met up with them and their friends later on and had a nice chat.
S: The springbok and gemsbok were not as plentiful as the previous day. We decided to go as far as Melkvlei, there is a picnic spot and toilets there, and then head across to the Mata Mata road to come out at Auchterlonie. There is a spot there where you can also get out the car and picnic. Just watch out for some large cats. There is also an old stone house which has been turned into a museum with an outside cooking area, smithy and livestock pens. It also features a well which was dug by hand.
This time it was the bird life which was really plentiful and Lesley was able to tick off a lot of boxes on the animal and bird spotting pamphlet which we had bought at the shop here. It is quite amazing how she is able to spot these little things sitting in and on the trees and bushes.
The highlights, I think, was the Spotted Eagle Owl and the two tawny eagles at the waterhole where the one was taking a drink or two and making a real spectacle of it.
L: Tonight we have got to know our neighbors in camp – Ian, Dries, Alta and Marietjie who are all so sweet and really blessed us with Alta giving us a jar of hot chocolate for our chilly nights to come, and a lot of hugs, thanks so much.
Day 5 – L: Brrrrrrr. It was freezing last night so we will have to haul out the sleeping bags or use a few of the crocheted blankets. Our neighbours packed from crack of dawn so we were awake, but lazy…..
Happy Mothers’ Day to all. I really missed my girls today. I had a call from Heather and we chatted briefly and sms’ed some more. Nicole sent me a few sms’es later too. Lovely to hear from them and all the news.
I met a lady, Penny, in the bathroom who has a friend who runs a mission station in Southern Sudan and would be so grateful for some of the blankets, but we hope to have distributed most of them by then. We are only going into Eastern Sudan….
A nice hot shower did the trick and we got going at about 9. We went out on the Mata Mata road. It was quieter than yesterday, but we eventually saw loads of birds.
We have a little pamphlet of most of the animals for the park and are amazed that we have managed to see about 44 of the 70 birds listed – these include Goshawks, Secretary bird, Herons, Kori Bustards, Northern Black Korhaan, Kestrels, Lap-Faced Vulture, Pygmy and Lanner Falcons, Eagles, Finches and the beautiful Crimson-Breasted Shrike to name a few. I will sneak a few pics in when Steve is not looking and hope not to bore you all.
We were treated to a fine display from the pair of Tawny Eagles again – they are just magnificent.
Steve is still miffed that he has not found his lions, but we have seen quite a few animals from the list too even suckling Springbok babies.
We drove past a parked car and thought the lady was doing her make-up, but soon discovered that it was, in fact, her paints etc. We met her and her husband and friends later and saw her beautiful drawings of trees which she will turn into oil paintings. She is Frederike Stokhuyzen, a famous artist and her husband John Smith (you can google her to see her work, if you like). S: It is at this point that I have to concede that I have been superseded in the patience stakes. John sits in the car while his wife is doing the paintings which can take up to an hour and a half. Waiting while Lesley takes her bird photographs does not feel so long anymore. L: Hmmmmmm, pay back time.
L: We also met their friends Stuart and Cindy who hope to “follow in our tracks”in a year’s time so were very interested in all the modifications to the bakkie. Lovely people. We are finding everyone so friendly and really wishing us well. They all say that they will pray for our safety, such an encouragement.
S: We looked at the sighting board when we got back to camp and found that all the sightings of cats that day were not in areas we had been. There have been lions around further up on the way to Mata Mata so we wait with anticipation for tomorrow.
We are heading out via Mata Mata tomorrow. We tried to make a booking for tomorrow night with no success. Oh well, we need to now get into the ‘drive until you are tired or find something interesting’ mode and then find a place to stay.
‘Til next time…..
L: Hope you enjoy our pics.