Real life wild animals!!
Trip Start Aug 17, 2003
76Trip End Jun 04, 2004
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We drove to the Twee Rivieren camp in the Kgalagadi park, and set up camp. We had a good drive, so managed to get there pretty early - it was nice to be able to chill out and not do much, although the sunny weather did cause a bit of a stampede to the washing block to wash through muddy clothes after all the rain!!
The following morning, we set off on our first drive as soon as the gates opened, at 7am. We headed off into the dunes of the Kalahari, keeping our eyes peeled for whatever we could see... The first thing was Gemsbok, or Oryx, antelopes with incredibly long horns, and long tails, almost like a horse's. Then around the next corner we came across Springbok - another antelope. There are 8000-10000 of them in this park, so we started to get a bit blasť about seeing them... But they're incredibly graceful animals.
We also came across a small group of wildebeest crossing the road. Very odd looking, but kind of cool!! It's amazing how unfazed by the trucks all the animals seem to be - I'm not sure whether that's because they're the wrong shape for the animals to feel scared by them, or more worrying, because they're used to them - which isn't natural... But I guess if the visitors create the money for conservation efforts, it's better than losing some of these animals altogether...
Other animals we saw on the first drive were black backed jackals, tawny eagles, kori bustards (africa's larges flying bird - looks way to big to fly!), and a flock of hornbills came right into our camp - perching on the washing lines!!!
We chilled for a couple of hours, and then went on a night drive organised by the camp. That was great because the driver stopped every 10 minutes or so to give us information about the park, or the animals/plants/birds that were nearby. Really interesting. Once it got fully dark, we had spotlights, which allowed us to see nocturnal animals - normally impossible because the park gates are closed at night... The eyes reflect the light, so you can find them and then get a better view. We managed to see a small spotted genet - like a cat - and an African Wild Cat - ancestor of the domestic cat, and literally looks just like a bog standard tabby!!!
The next day, we headed off early again, planning to drive up to the next camp (200km away!) because giraffe had been spotted there. We saw a lot of gemsbok and springbok again, and another herd of wildebeest... We were getting a bit despondent that we wouldn't see anything new - I guess in the "Disney" world, you get used to things being there when you want to see them - the idea that these animals are real and go wherever the hell they want, and that might not be near the road, is a bit of an adjustment. We also caught ourselves saying "oh, it's just another springbok" - two days ago we'd have been so over excited!! But it's still amazing to have been able to see them in real life!
Anyway, so just as we were thinking we wouldn't find the giraffe, we saw a lioness sunning herself. She was just hidden behind a bush, so we nearly missed her, but it was an amazing amazing sight. She was so beautiful. Really hope we'll be lucky enough to see some more and closer up!
Got to the other camp for lunch, and still hadn't seen the giraffes, but we were hoping that by taking a couple of side roads where they'd been spotted recently, we might be lucky... We drove for about an hour and a half and had pretty much all convinced our selves we wouldn't see them - when there they were!!!
Absolutely amazing... There was a herd of about 25, with a lot of little one, including a tiny one who looked like he couldn't have been much more than a couple of months old... It was so so amazing to see them, we watched for ages. They are so graceful, yet their long legs look so spindly, they look really really odd....
We were all so overexcited to see them it was untrue... Definitely made my day! I can't wait now until we go to Etosha in about 2 weeks time, where we should hopefully see elephants and rhino! Amazing....