Well Folks the Final Curtain is drawing on Sawubona Africa. This is my last entry and a fitting end it is too. Read on………………..
30th Oct 2013
Terra Rouge, Namibia
Our last day in Namibia, we stopped for the night at Terra Rouge, just outside Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
So it’s farewell to Namibia with its vast wide open spaces, awesome scenery and big blue skies for the brief return to South Africa before we head to the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi.
31st Oct to 4th Nov 2013
Mata Mata – Kgalagadi, South Africa
We set up camp at Mata Mata for four nights. Mata Mata is a small camp at the northern end of the park and has a border crossing with Namibia. After here we move on to the wilder Botswana side where we will stay at Polentswa for three nights and Mabuasehube for five nights.
We are taking it easy and just kicking back. On the second day we found two Cheetahs on the remains of a kill and a further 10kms down the road another Cheetah chasing springbok herds around.
The following morning we were treated to lions drinking at the waterhole, right in front of our camp, a mere 15m away. There hasn’t been any rain here for a very long time, it’s now exceptionally hot, everywhere is dry and the animals are forced to come and drink at the waterholes.
Fortunately for us all the South Africa camps have a swimming pool to cool off during the day.
4th to 7th November
Polentswa – Botswana.
Polentswa is a large Pan with unfenced camp sites and definitely that wild feel about it. It’s been a very long drive to get here and the searing heat is relentless. On arrival we were greeted and subsequently tormented by swarms of flies. It got so bad that I resorted to using my face net for the first time. So here I am setting up camp, looking like Ena Sharples on a bad day in the middle of the bush! Our luck has run out, we just missed two good sightings by minutes, both at waterholes. The first was a fight between a Brown and Spotted Hyaena, the second was a pair of mating lions! Oh well, still time to make up for it.
In the afternoon a male lion comes to our rescue and lays down close to us against the backdrop of a Kalahari blood red sky. It’s a very dramatic sky this evening with every hue of orange and red and the sound of thunder somewhere on the horizon.
The morning we leave Polentswa, we pay a visit to the waterhole and find a Brown Hyaena drinking – a first for both of us.
7th Nov 2013
Nossob – South Africa
We are supposed to travel a challenging 200km to get to Mabuasehube on the Botswana side. Africa foils us again though; there is no fuel at Nossob camp. The tanker has got itself stuck in the sand and they don’t know how long it will take to recover it! So, we settle down to an unexpected night at Nossob.
We are woken up by lions calling at 4 a.m., really loud, just outsdie camp. A wonderful sound. It’s two large male and they make their way to the Nossob waterhole where we watch them from the confines of the hide. Not a bad start to the day.
The road to Mabua was nowhere near as bad as people were making out. In fact it’s lovely woodland dune scenery and we managed to find bat eared fox and a group of Meerkats.
I have been reliably informed that the best site in Mabua is Mpayathutlwa (try saying that after few G&T’s) but it very popular and always full. Nevertheless, we drove to the office and managed to change our booking, so we have five nights at Mpayathutlwa, overlooking the waterhole.
8th Nov to 13th Nov
This is it, the last time we are to make and break camp on this trip. It’s finally the last lap.
The first day is very quiet and, with there being very little shade, the heat is exhausting us both . The camp site overlooks the waterhole (you can see our tent, top right, in the photo of the drinking lions below).
There are no lodges in this wilderness area, it’s for the determined and intrepid traveler and you need to be fully self sufficient. We have no facilities whatsoever and need to drive to another camp site about 1km away for water and basic facilities. But having Africa all to yourself is more than enough compensation. After the second day of also seeing very little game, Emma’s concerned…………”what are we going to do for 5 nights here, we’ve no facilities and not much in the way of game to keep us entertained.” Famous last words. That night we were awoken by a leopard making that rasping, saw-like sound. We followed the spoor at daybreak but couldn’t find him. Returning to camp, we see five lions making their way to the waterhole. We rush down in time to sit with a lioness and her four cubs (around 15 months old) three males and a female. It was around 7am, in golden light and they were very relaxed around us as we sat and watched them for an age.
Around 4am the next morning, we hear lions calling from the vicinity of the waterhole. By the number of decibels, there is surely a full grown male around. We’re away to find them at 5 am. There’s no sign of anything at the waterhole – except spoor. We follow the spoor and catch up with a big black maned lion about 500m up the road. Naturally pleased with our find and tracking “skills” we stop and take it all in. Suddenly pandemonium! Lions jump out from the bush, right in front of us, full of high spirits and playfully fighting in the coolness of the dawn. Ahead of us is a disused Scout Camp and we find even more lions using it as a make shift home and playground. I’ve managed to count sixteen lions but there could be more. This is a huge pride and the biggest I’ve seen for many a year. Apart from Big Daddy, there are five or six lioness and cubs of varying age. They put on a fabulous show and kept us entertained for hours with nobody else around. Emma has been wishing to see a big pride all through this trip and voila, here they are, larger than life.
We watched the lions with their playful antics and the odd scrap until around 7.45 am when they retire to the shade. This pride is definitely not related to the pride of five we saw yesterday, so we’ve been lucky having two prides in as many days.
More game arrives and we get to see Honey Badger taking a bath. Apart from that there is brown Hyaena, gemsbok, springbok, wildebeest etc. I also saw a jackal take out a vulture near the waterhole.
Needless to say we head out to see the lions in the late afternoons and early mornings. There are so many that it’s not hard to find them and there are always a few of them hanging around the scout camp.
On our last morning we followed the pride male and a lioness. They are now mating and joined a number of the others at one of the campsites, where they make themselves very much at home.
Alas, time to break camp for the last time and tackle the long road home.
These last few days with the lions have been a wonderful end to this epic journey and it’s been great to bow out on such a high.
You know, we bought a booklet on the Kalahari that states……….”the Kalahari will only reveal itself to those who seek it with a true heart”. Well thanks Kalahari, can I have my heart back please?
All that remains is for me to say a few thanks. Thanks to all of you who have been following us. Your kind words and encouragement meant a whole lot to us along the way.
To Emma, who should be beatified for all her efforts and putting up with me 24/7 these last 4 months. She kept the show on the road more times than I can remember.
To the people of Africa, especially the children, who kept our spirits up with their beaming smiles, waves and warmth.
To kindred souls and fellow travellers we met along the way for all your camaraderie.
And of course to the stars of the show…………Africa’s Wildlife, you gave us more pleasure than words can express and the magical adventure of a lifetime.