2015 Kgalagadi – Day 3

The first unforgettable Kgalagadi trip!

Saturday – 2015/09/26

The FIRST formal day in the Kgalagadi began with a steaming cup of coffee and rusks, while we watched the sun rising silently above the peaceful camp.

Sun crawling over the horizon at Twee Rivieren.

Freshly showered, we packed a basket for breakfast and headed off towards Nossob with great expectations.

Oryx at Samevloeiing

Samevloeiing was the first waterhole on our route and we were treated to a few oryx grazing close by… as well as a red hartebeest at the edge of the riverbed.

There were a number of spring buck along the road. Some were standing and others were still lying around. Possible reasons for them lying around were the bulging bellies ready to give birth.

Wandering wildebeest along the road to Leeuwdril.

We saw quite a lot of ground squirrels and wildebeest on the way to Leeuwdril, the second waterhole towards Nossob. We were also treated to a tortoise that were slowly but surely walking along in the road.

And then we saw our first lion!… That turned out to be the first of many…

En route to Leeuwdril

Luckily they kept strolling close to the road, so we watched and followed them for a while as they crossed the Kalahari dunes. They came across some oryx, which they watched from a safe distance… Safe for the A-grade superior oryx.

Around the next bend, we found the Leeuwdril waterhole, where more oryx and wildebeest were herding together. The lionesses disappeared behind a dune and we waited for a while to see whether they would reappear… They didn’t, so we decided to continue on our way towards Melkvlei…

And there, between Leeuwdril and Melkvlei, we discovered a sociable weaver nests tree that created the most gorgeous picture.

Impressive tree filled with sociable weaver nests

Before we stopped for our picnic we saw a few birds of prey, but due to our tummies starting to moan and our bladders being on the brink of causing chaos, we didn’t stop to take pictures. We were pushing through to Melkvlei.

In the Kgalagadi you are allowed to get out of your vehicle only when in the camps and at the picnic sites. However, when at the picnic sites you are warned to stay alert as there are no fences keeping any prowlers at bay.

Our picnic spot at Melkvlei

Fortunately for us there were no lions lying around the shade of the picnic tables when we arrived and we could focus on the task at hand to relief the building pressure in our bladders… Many people have been held up in their vehicles by lions that were bathing in the shade of the ablution facilities.

We started up the skottelbraai and unpacked the picnic basket. We drank in the feeling of being one with nature, while stirring some breakfast to life in the little bit of shade. Just outside the picnic area there were one or two oryx and spring buck standing in a bit of shade of their own.

After emptying the skottelbraai and cleaning up, we decided to turn away at Kij Kij and take the lower dune road passed Tierkop and Kij Gamies to enter the Mata-Mata road near Auchterlonie.

Wind mill in the lower dune road
Skull in the red sand

The road didn’t deliver much wildlife, except the first secretary bird we came across and a lone oryx or three… However, we were treated to a very unique illusion of a windmill in the road… and a classic image of a skull in the red desert sand…

From Auchterlonie we passed a few waterholes, but we hit the mid day heat and the few animals that were around, were seeking solace in the shade.

Back at Twee Rivieren we stopped at the shop to cool ourselves off with an ice cream, before stretching out on our stretchers in the shade of our tent.

In the late afternoon we took Escapé out on the same road towards Melkvlei, hoping to come across the two lionesses we saw the morning… And when we found them, it was clear that there afternoon nap lasted much longer than ours.

Lionesses sleeping next to the road
Meerkat on the lookout

We only had limited time available before returning to camp and we had to return on the same route, so we decided to leave the sleeping beauties for now and go explore a bit further.

We found a few meerkat… And not much further, we found two big boys under a tree…  But they were as lazy as lions can get on a hot afternoon… The one would lift his head and show off the beautiful black mane, before flopping down again… Then it’s the other one’s turn to let the mane of hair breathe.

Lazy lions

It was clear that they were waiting for the day’s heat to pass before they would try any kind of movement. The Kgalagadi is hot! The day temperature is not for sissies… Not even for lions!

With the time running out we were heading back to camp to reach the gate before it closes, but at Leeuwdril’s waterhole the amount of vehicles were a definite sign that something was going on there.

It was the two lionesses that awoke and were now taking over the waterhole. None of the herds of wildebeest or oryx from earlier were anywhere to be seen.

At first only the one lioness came closer, but the other followed soon after… and there we sat watching the, while they were playing with each other, like two sisters would.

Playful lionesses at Leeuwdril waterhole

We would have loved to stay around and continue to watch them, but the sun was sinking lower towards the horizon. Apart from the gate that was going to close, the Spring bucks (the two-legged sort) were kicking off against Samoa and Grandpa Ampie wanted to see what would happen in this World Cup game.

As we got closer to Twee Rivieren, the radio signal was improving (enough for us to start listening to the rugby) and the sky was darkening fast, with clouds drifting closer, filled with the promise of rain.

We drove up to the bar, where the game was playing on a big screen TV. We stepped out of the bar at half time and saw the moon shining brilliantly on one side of the sky, with thunder playing on the other side, so we decided to head back to the tent to enjoy the splendor of nature… Grandpa Ampie stayed behind to watch the game.

The day came to an end too fast, with thunderbolts on display, a few drops of rain on the gazebo roof and the sizzle of pork chops on the braai… It was our last night in Twee Rivieren and we went to bed listening to thunder rolling over the Kalahari… and the promise of another unforgettable day in the Kgalagadi.

For more adventures, have a look at the other daily posts from the introduction. Or click here to go to the next day.

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