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Found 10 results

  1. As we had proven that it was possible to drive the 1100 km to get to the park, to cater for ourselves and yet still have a holiday back in January 2015 (http://safaritalk.net/topic/14432-kgalagadi-summer-self-drive-and-self-catering-in-south-africa-january-2015/), we decided it was time to return. South Africa has been our September safari destination for the past three years, due to the strength of the Pound to the Rand. Now we have Brexit, it may be the sole destination for years to come.... I have also worked out the best use of air miles and had managed to book the flights with a one way upgrade to business using miles (no availability in the opposite direction). September is peak safari season in South Africa and supposedly the best time to go, so it would be a nice contrast to our summer and "wrong" time to go trip last year. Given the ever increasing popularity of the park, especially with locals, with the huge bang for small buck (Rand not Spring-) and the ability to camp and self-cater, booking was going to be the main issue. For our January trip, I just booked a few months out online and took what was available (3 main camps and 1 wilderness camp). It was not an issue. The idea of being so organised 11 months in advance is a bit of an anathema to me, but needs must. There are tales of people queuing in person at the SANParks offices at the crack of dawn and still not getting the dates and camps they wanted, so I was very nervous. The SANParks booking system opens 11 months in advance on the first weekday for in person, phone and email bookings and on the following day for web bookings. With the time difference, using the phone was not an option as this would coincide with my commute to work. So email it was. No-one could really answer how they prioritise these, so given my friend is a Travel agent, we figured that his email may get priority over one from me. This may be completely false, but it was worth a go. I gave him our dates and preferred camps with alternatives and crossed my fingers. To my joy, we got rooms for all the nights we wanted and mostly at the right camps! Wilderness camp availability was an issue, so they substituted my desired Kieliekrankie or Urikaruus with Mata Mata. Given that we had Kalahari tented camp, this was a bit annoying, as we would then have 6 nights in the same small area, however, at least this would be separated by 3 nights in Nossob. C'est la vie. When the online bookings opened the next day, there was almost zero avilability. A few campsites here and there and some nights at TR but nothing at all at Nossob. Good job we didn't wait for this! Almost immediately I was able to change the Mata Mata hut to a riverside room and grab one night at Urikaruus, reducing to 5 nights the stay in the area. That was the last change I was able to make though, despite checking a few times a week, including after the deposit deadline (when some people lose their bookings) and at payment deadline (the one that I nearly missed - http://safaritalk.net/topic/16555-nearly-lost-my-sanparks-ktp-september-reservation/).So our itinerary was: Joburg (1 night) Upington (1 night) Twee Rivieren (2 nights) Mata Mata (2 nights) Urikaruus (1 night) Nossob (3 nights) Kalahari Tented Camp - Honeymoon tent! (3 nights) Upington (1 night) Joburg (1 night) With 11 nights in the Park, we managed to fit in one more than our last trip. Just had to wait for the 11 months to count down....
  2. As anticipated in my last trip report ( http://safaritalk.net/topic/14528-road-trip-2015-the-hunt-for-red-dune/ ) we have decided to return to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park even before we have exited it! Not a difficult decision; the park is awesome, with only a handful of cars driving around, and booking early gave us the opportunity to stay at several wilderness camps. In fact, we stayed at every wilderness camp but at Urikaruus. As we have had plenty of time for preparations, we were adamant not to repeat our “food crisis diet”. Both @@penolva and @@Tdgraves were gracious and sent us their grocery lists. Zvezda did the final selection; I have rolled my eyes when I saw the final list but as a good husband (and the lousy cook from the last trip), I did not comment too loudly. In retrospective: we have bought too much food! Specially meat portions in South Africa are double the size of European portions. And three times better! So we have indulged in "proteins mostly diet" this time. One thing that we did not want to repeat was the long drive to, and specially from the Munchen airport. Thus the airline of our choice that flies from Ljubljana (with connection to JNB) was Turkish Airlines. The price was right, and the connecting times in Istanbul airport also not too bad. Easy decision here. In retrospective: both flights were reasonably comfortable, the food was good, and they were both on time. We will fly Turkish Airlines more often. Decision to fly from JNB to Upington was not so easy, but it proved to be an excellent one. It gave us two days in Johannesburg which we used to the maximum thanks to @@Peter Connan and his friend Marnus, and all members of their families. Mrs.Gemma Dry from Discover Namibia was again our travel agent. Not that I am getting “soft” but really, her services were impeccable, so why not enjoy them also this time?! The Itinerary: 29 Jan flight LJU-IST-JNB 30 Jan arrival JNB, overnight Jo’burg 31 Jan flight JNB-UPN, overnight Upington 01 Feb Nossob Camp 02 Feb Nossob Camp 03 Feb Grootkolk Wilderness Camp 04 Feb Gharagab Wilderness Camp 05 Feb Gharagab Wilderness Camp 06 Feb Bitterpan Wilderness Camp 07 Feb Kielikrankie Wilderness Camp 08 Feb Kielikrankie Wilderness Camp 09 Feb Kalahari Tented Camp 10 Feb Kalahari Tented Camp 11 Feb Kalahari tented Camp 12 Feb drive to Upington, overnight Upington 13 Feb flight UPN-JNB, overnight Jo’burg 14 Feb evening flight JNB-IST-LJU Photo equipment (all Nikon): Bodies: D610 and D7100 Lenses: 20mm f1.8, 24-120mm f4, 70-200mm f4, 300mm f4 Teleconverters: TC14II and TC17II Gear strategy: to use TCs on both bodies all the time to enable lens switching and to prevent sensor dusting. D610 + TC14 for best IQ D7100 + TC17 for longest reach SD cards to last 8000 shots without deleting any. Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG; JPEG is Zvezda's request as she wants to check out the photos each evening on her iPad. RAW were 12-bit lossless compressed, JPEG were Small with Medium compression. I have discussed my options ad infinitum with @@Peter Connan; he was a great listener (OK, reader) and expert photographer and eventually I have decided for the above combinations. I was also very close to buying 200-500mm f5.6 zoom, but at last moment decided to skip it (this time around). In retrospective: next time I will come with a 200-500 (or similar)!! We have switched lenses too many times. If not for the TC’s both sensors would be dirty by the mid of the trip! And it was not always easy to decide which focal length and which sensor (body) combination to use at a particular moment. Self driving a Toyota Hilux 2.5D Double Cab supplied by Kalahari 4x4. It was equipped with a fridge and a cooler box. But boy, that were “professor fridge” and “professor cooler”!! Huge, they swallowed all our provisions with ease. Car and fridge worked flawlessly during entire trip. In the park tires were deflated to 1.4 bars. It will be a long trip report! Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!
  3. Hi everybody, and welcome to yet another Kgalagadi & Co. report from South Africa! What to expect from this one? Well, what the title says: It´s the Kalahari, so of course these two species will show up a lot: Apologies in advance - I´m afraid there will be lots of birds in this one. Common ones: Little Ones: Big Ones: And birds on the hunt: Of course there will be Cats. What would a TR be without Cats? And there will be some "specials". Like ... So, ready to get on the road?
  4. This trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) was longer in the contemplation than the planning. We had been put off by the need to self-cater and hence shop for every meal of the trip. It is supposed to be a holiday after all! Last year we had considered going to the newly opened private lodge, Ta Shebube, on the Botswana side, but were put off by their lack of engagement with inquiries and a bizarre change of pricing structure, so we went to the Kruger instead. Whilst we were there and having been forced to self-cater for 3 days after an abrupt cessation of the restaurant service in Satara, earlier than advertised, we felt that cooking could be part of the holiday vibe and decided that the next January trip could be to the KTP. After our September trip, we finally decided to bite the bullet and make pans. The long drive was not so much an issue, as we often drive about 3-4000km in a two week trip to RSA, although going to KTP does really require an overnight rest stop en route (most people stop in Upington) and therefore eats into the actual game viewing days (10 days rather than 12 from a 14 day trip). Although it is possible to fly to Upington and hire a car from there, this is really just an additional expense and does not really buy much time. As we have friends in Joburg, it made sense to see them first and borrow their coolboxes, solar lights, GPS, mobile phone etc. Therefore we did all of our supplies shopping in Joburg and froze things down in their freezer before setting off on the 9 hour drive to Upington. The shopping itself was like a minor military operation. A comprehensive list is vital as you need to buy everything, including lots of bottled water. We had been warned that the park shops were not well stocked. If you arrived in the park with nothing, you wouldn't starve, but most of what was available was tinned food and drinks as well as braai supplies. We had booked Riverplace guest house in Upington for the first night, on the recommendation of fellow STers, but despite taking full payment 3 months in advance, they moved us at short notice to a different B&B down the road, presumably to accommodate a large group. I was not happy about this as I had spent a long time deciding where to stay to make it an integral part of the trip, rather than just a room to sleep in. Also, we had the issue of frozen and chilled food to be stored, which Riverplace are well used to doing. Our alternative accommodation (Sun River Kalahari Lodge) was OK, just not really our taste. It was in a lovely setting on the Orange River. However, it was cheaper than Riverplace and it took a further month to obtain a refund from them I had managed to book our flights using miles (a first for me) but as I was not aware of the intricacies of this booking system , which opens 355 days in advance (and having flu at the time), we ended up going a week later than we would normally. However, we flew out premium economy on the A380 (lovely plane - really quiet) and came back business (another first for us), on the top deck of a jumbo - fabulous!! And all for the not insignificant cost of various airline taxes (about £580 each) So the itinerary was: 24th Jan Joburg 25th Upington 26-28th Twee Rivieren 2 nights 28-30th Kieliekrankie wilderness camp 2 nights 30th-2nd Feb Nossob 3 nights 2-5th Mata Mata river front chalet 3 nights 5th Upington 6th Joburg 7th Fly home Although it was not peak season so I was able to book only 3 months in advance, this meant that we only got one wilderness camp and this was a different one to what I was initially planning after looking at availability! Having never been before, I took longer than usual, double checking that there was enough time to transfer between camps, especially as we had been looking at going north of Nossob. During this time, the other wilderness camp got booked up. This turned out to be a perfect itinerary though, as it allowed us to see the different areas of the park. Although most KTP aficionados prefer the wilderness camps, they are very small and so get booked up well in advance. The main camps are still small (compared to the Kruger) and are well positioned for the different areas of the park. The main camps are run on generators, which are switched off overnight, so no electricity between about 10pm and 5am, depending on the time of year, whereas the wilderness camps are on solar, so they have 24 hour light (but no sockets for charging). I wouldn't have thought this significant, but we did end up washing up after a braai in the dark on more than one occasion! We had a high clearance car - looks like a 4x4, but was only 2WD, which we usually have for summer game viewing in the Kruger, affording better views over long grass. This was useful as often the sandy roads were at a lower level than the surrounding ground. We spent most of the journey to Upington listening to the South Africa vs. West Indies test match on the radio, until the final few deciding minutes where the station cut to the news and did not return, meaning we missed the conclusion There seems to be only one restaurant recommended to tourists in Upington, which is a casual bar-style place, which also serves sushi (about 800km from the sea)!! We had a good meal and an early night to recover from the long drive.
  5. Prologue Our first trip to »black Africa, to Namibia in 2014, impressed us deeply, and as written in our previous TR (http://tinyurl.com/q9u7lrm ) we have made plans to return already while flying from Windhoek to Johannesburg, on our way back home. Making of the itinerary was easy enough; returning to Namibia, to see and experience/explore the other part of it, south. To add the wildlife component, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was also an obvious choice, specially after reading so many great TR here. There was some minor changes during the following months but final itinerary was very similar to our initial ideas. Here it is: Apr 17 flight MUC-JNB-WDH Apr 18 arrival WDH, transfer to Villa Violet, afternoon guided tour of Windhoek Apr 19 pick up the rental car, driving to Barchan Dune Retreat Apr 20 driving to Sossus Dune Lodge via Solitaire Apr 21 driving to Namtib Desert Lodge via D707 Apr 22 driving to Fish River Lodge Apr 23 driving to Mesosaurus Fossil Camp Apr 24 driving to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Kalahari Tented Camp Apr 25 game drive Auob riverbed, Kalahari Tented Camp Apr 26 game drive Auob riverbed, driving to Nossob Camp Apr 27 driving to !Xaus Lodge Apr 28 driving to Twee Rivieren Camp Apr 29 game drive Nossob riverbed, Twee Rivieren Camp Apr 30 driving to Kalahari Farmstall May 1 driving to Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch May 2 driving to Windhoek, Villa Violet May 3 flight WDH-JNB-MUC All bookings were made by Discover Namibia, mrs.Gemma Dry again did her job perfectly. The rental car company and the car itself were the same as last year; a Toyota Hilux Double Cab with 2 spare tires and Engel fridge, from Advanced Car Hire. As we have had some unpleasant experiences flying last year with Qatar Airways, we have decided to use South African Airways for this trip. There were some more affordable options, both pricewise and logistically, yet none of those other airlines allowed us to book the complete trip, to Windhoek. With SAA this was possible. The »price« we paid for that was a 5-hour car drive from Ljubljana to Munich. That should be a pleasant drive through Austrian mountains ... if not for the heavy rain. The flight itself was OK, and on time. Our photo equipment was even larger then last trip; this is what we used: Nikon D610 & D7100 bodies, AF-S 20mm f/1.8 ultrawide lens, AF-S 16-85VR DX zoom, AF-S 70-200mm f/4 zoom and AF-S 300mm f/4D telephoto lens, with TC1.4 attached. Sony RX100II for my pleasure, interiors and videos. A tripod and a bean bag. With enough SD cards to last for 10.000+ RAW images (9100 was the end result, splitted D610 – 3300, D7100 – 4800, RX100 – 1000). During our 14 days/15 nights trip we have covered 3150 km, and consumed 270 l of diesel fuel. Majority on gravel roads, and we have absorbed also our first proper 4x4 sand trail drive, without problems. No tyre, windscreen, or other part of the vehicle was damaged during the making of this road trip.
  6. Thanks to the excellent report by @@Panthera Pardus we planned our road trip based around some of South Africa's lesser known parks. We had included Mountain Zebra NP but a delayed flight, an unexpected night in Amsterdam and then having three quarters of our luggage lost, some of it being sent to Hong Kong we had to adjust things and stay in Johannesburg longer than we intended. To catch up on our schedule we decided to stay 4 nights in Addo Elephant Park instead of 3. MZNP was cancelled but we have already booked to go there next February as it looked to be in a beautiful area. We booked everything ourselves once again and chose mainly SanParks accommodation as we had been so impressed with Kruger NP and Kgalagadi TP last year. They did not dissapoint. De Hoop is run by Cape Nature and was not up to the quality of Sanparks in our opinion. However we are very glad we visited as the sand dunes and the sea are spectacular there. At Franschook we stayed in a beautiful cottage on a working vineyard. The wine was excellent We drove 6632 km in a hired Bushlore Toyota Hilux with double fuel tanks. It was a fantastic journey. I will start at Addo Elephant Park. As @@Panthera Pardus explained the elephants in Addo were almost wiped out with only 11 remaining in 1931. The great success of the park is that not only are there hundreds of elephants now but that they are totally relaxed around vehicles. You park up and can sit with them for hours watching play, social behaviour and listen to rumblings and trumpeting between mothers and their babies. They also come really close to the parked vehicles, so close you could reach out and touch them. If you love elephants, as we do, Addo Elephant Park is the place to go. We stayed in Matyholweni camp in one of the two person chalets. Its beautiful there and very peaceful.
  7. The Cape Fox appears to be a docile animal snoozing at the entrance of the den most of the time The Honey Badger is claw and muscle, reputedly fearless and always seems to be on a mission ambling along. On 01 November 2014 we were just south of Leeudril Waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park when we heard a commotion. I stopped the car, we could see and hear a Cape Fox barking and a jackal standing in the background. Then from behind the bush a honey badger appeared with another cape fox on his tail We then clicked that the honey badger was trying to dig out a fox cub from the den, the foxes were at him and the opportunist jackal was waiting for anything that may come his way. The action was on Sharifa's side and she was getting the shots. I tried to get some video footage round and pass her as the audio for this sighting has to be heard. The Foxes worked perfectly as a team and while one kept the badger busy from the front the other tried to get a some bites to the rear. They also retreated swifly if the badger turned on them. One cub lost his nerve, emerged from the den and ran down the road Another emerged from one entrance and scooted down another The Foxes kept at the badger The badger is frustrated and driven away and the brave foxes save their cubs
  8. This year we were a party of 5 – myself, @@farin, Mum (both on second safaris) and the Cousins (safari newbies) on a soft adventure safari followed by a 6 day Moremi mobile with Masson Safaris. The highlights were: 5 cheetah cubs at Mashatu Leopard and baboon antics at Mashatu Meeting up with old friends again – Richard at Mashatu Tent Camp, Francois and Margaret in Namibia and Ewan and Sallie Masson in Botswana Owls Male lion stalking in Kgalagadi, lions everywhere including the Caprivi African Wildcat and honey badger in Kgalagadi Brown hyena at Okaukuejo Village and kraal life along the Angolan border and through the Caprivi Meeting Mark and Charlie Paxton at Shamvura camp in the Caprivi – I have received Mark’s KOAR emails for 2-3 years and took the opportunity to stop by and say hello Carmine bee-eaters at Mazambala Lodge An impromptu visit to a Caprivi mission The stunning scenery and bewitching colours of Namibia from the Kalahari to the Caprivi Sable and roan in Mahango Game Reserve Serval and Black Mamba in Moremi Carmine Bee-eaters, Mazambala Lodge, Caprivi Pride of 6, Moremi Lion, (KTP) African Wild Cat, KTP Photo galleries, including accommodation for 2014 are online at https://picasaweb.google.com/Treepol The final itinerary was: Mashatu Tent Camp (4 nights) Twee Riverien (3 nights) Kalahari Farmstall (3 nights) Anib Kalahari Lodge (1 night) Desert Breeze, Swakopmund (2 nights) Erongo Wilderness Lodge (1 night) Palmwag (2 nights) Okaukuejo (2 nights) Halali (1 night) Mushara Bush Camp (2 nights) Hakusembe River Lodge (1 night) Mazambala Lodge (2 nights) Nunda Lodge (2 nights) The Kraal, Maun (1 night) Masson Safaris Mobile 1.Campsite near Second Bridge, Moremi (3 nights Hatab 6) 2.Xakanaxa Campsite (2 nights Hatab 9) 3.Mopane Tongue Campsite (1 night Hatab 14) The Kraal, Maun (1 night) The itinerary was designed to visit a variety of environments to maximise wildlife viewing opportunities in the varied environs of the Tuli Block, the deserts of Kgalagadi (KTP) and Etosha, the coast at Swakopmund and the Caprivi and Moremi wetlands. KTP delivered for us with lion, owls and a honey badger. We travelled from the coast to the Caprivi via Etosha to see the full gamut of Namibia’s wildlife. And what a grand drive it was for awe-inspiring scenery, colourful birds and wishlist rarities of brown hyena, sable herds and roan. Moremi delivered longed for sights of serval and a black egret hooding together with wetland scenery, mud-wrestling ele style, owls and black mamba. The final itinerary included more one night stays than I originally planned, however we sacrificed some 3 night stays to keep travel to less than 400 km most days. Zebra, Charitsaub, Etosha Carmine Bee-Eater with Kalahari Apple Leaf tree, Moremi Eles at dusk, Okaukuejo, Etosha NP Starting out The party left from Devonport and Hobart airports on 10 August. @@farin and I were very happy to be leaving a cold 8C in Hobart, knowing that we were heading for warmer days. We met Mum and the Cousins in Melbourne and flew on to Sydney for the first night before the 14 hour flight to Joberg. There was a last minute flight change when Qantas cancelled our international flight, however this was resolved by leaving a day earlier than planned and spending an extra day in Africa (never a bad thing, shame it was in Joberg). Due to the flight change we were able to visit the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre with an afternoon stop at the nearby Monkey Sanctuary where the highlight was the ring-tailed lemurs. I have now added Madagascar to my longlist! After a pleasant day with a taste of spotted cats and painted dogs, we returned to the Airport City Lodge for a good night's sleep before the Polokwane flight and transfer to Mashatu next day.
  9. Recently returned from a 6 day KTP safari where we were lucky with lion, seeing 7 individual mature males with handsome manes and 2 separate African Wild Cats. In addition to the cat lotto, we enjoyed 2 separate Spotted Eagle Owl sightings, one of which included a chick. The full length KTP trip report featuring meerkats, ground squirrels and much more begins at post #24 in this trip report in the Botswana forum.
  10. I remember from our last visit to KTP that we had to get a permit for our day trips around the park. Is there really a permit system in place or do guides just have to register their planned drives for safety reasons? I've tried emailing Sanparks but have had no replies. Does anyone know if the following drives are permitted from Twee Rivieren? Twee Rivieren – Nossob and return to Twee Rivieren Twee Rivieren – Dikbaardskolk and the loop to Vaalpan and Kamqua before returning to Twee Rivieren Twee Rivieren – Kij Kij and then the loop to Tierkop, Auchterlonie and then back to Twee Rivieren

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