Sunday, 4 March 2007

Khutse NP - It's raining cats and dogs - Day3

Lions walking from the waterhole
We woke early on Sunday – around 5.30am – the idea was to get in a drive as the sun came up, especially since we were pretty close (Ok, about 10km) from the Motailane waterhole.  Finally managed to drag ourselves out at about 5.45am and were driving by 6am, after dropping the rooftent. 

Arrived about half an hour later at the waterhole and hit the jackpot.  As we were driving towards the waterhole, saw 5 animals walking up the road at a right angle to the one we were on.  I said “zebra”, though thinking after saying it – there aren’t zebra around here... 
Young lion up close
Stopped to put the binoculars on them – Lions!  5 youngsters heading back along the road after having drunk at the waterhole.  It was absolutely fantastic – all in a line heading up the road!  We manoeuvred the car just off the road so we could catch them walking straight passed us and just shot photos – really awesome to see these guys – and nice and healthy too – nice change from the one we had seen on Friday night.  

They gave us a couple of glances but otherwise seemed pretty uninterested in us; heading past the car with purpose.  Except for the one guy, who hung back a bit, came closer and stared at us for a while – suppose he was just making sure we weren’t too much of a threat.  Satisfied he headed off into the bush, following the other four.  It was all over so quickly – the whole scene couldn’t have taken more than about 5 minutes.  But they were nice and close walking past us, they gave us some great close ups. 

Up closer!
Knowing we weren’t going to top that, we decided not to wait at the waterhole.  After all, all the animals would know there were lions in the area – we figured nothing would be making an appearance any time soon.  So we decided to keep on going and chance our luck on the pans in the early morning light.

Well, we were wrong – we didn’t get to the pans.  About a kilometre or 2 later, still chatting about the awesome luck of the lions, we spotted ears on the road in the distance – looking suspiciously round – and as we turned the corner – a pack of 6 wild dogs lying on the road!! 

Wild dogs on the road
The ears belonged to the dog standing up in the middle of the road staring at us, like a sentry (or guard dog) with 5 guys lying on the road in the shade.  We thought that they would dash off the moment they saw us, but strangely enough they were pretty calm and relaxed and carried on lying there. They lay there for quite a while and we got some great shots of them.

Suddenly the ears were up and they stiffened. They were off like a shot.  They’d heard another car approaching, way before we did.  The car arrived a couple of moments later, a local couple out on a drive.  We thought the dogs had disappeared but spotted a couple in the bushes, so pointed them out to the two. 
Taking off
They were standing through the sunroof taking photos using the camera on their cell phone.  After a while, surprisingly they started walking back towards the road – awesome – hopefully more photo shots of them!  Right back on the road, and again very calm.  They lay there in the shade for a while again – about 10 minutes – before they took off again.  But plenty of shots – great to get them on camera and video!  What fantastic luck!!!

After seeing both cats and dogs, we were pretty much on a total high.  Such awesome sightings, fantastic photo opportunities, and all in such a short space time as well – what a great trip!

From there we took a drive around the pans – just in case something else was lurking around, but nothing much else to see.  So we headed back to Motailane, where we came across a massive crew of vultures – probably about a hundred parking off around the waterhole – quite a sight to see. 

And as we arrive about 30 of them took off, virtually one by one – like planes taking off one at a time.  Quite amusing to see.  It’s as if one has decided to check out for any potential food and the others don’t want to be left out.  They take off and sort of ride the winds for a while before landing again. 

A wake of vultures
Quite spectacular to see, and especially since there were different species of vultures.  Mostly white-backed vultures, but quite a few lappet-faced vultures in between.  And a much rarer one to see – the angular looking white-headed vulture.  Interesting to see the interaction between them – there’s almost like a pecking order, with the most common ones being right at the bottom ;)

Time was getting on and we would have to start the drive back home, so we went back to camp for a cooked breakfast before heading off.  When we got back the wind was blowing quite a lot but it was too hot to sit in the sun cooking breakfast. 

So we dug a hole in the shade, put in some coals and cooked bacon and leftovers in the frying pan over the fire.  The wind was stronger than we thought and actually slammed the back of the car shut.  Wouldn’t have been a problem, except that the GLASS coffee plunger was sitting in the way – suddenly just an explosion of sound – now a shattered coffee plunger! 

Not good – especially if you need that cup of filter coffee in the morning!  But as they say in Afrikaans “ n boer maak n plan” (a guy makes a plan) so the next thing I know Dru has got the kettle going with the filter coffee granules in the pot as well.  Once boiled the strained it through his sarong!  He really needs that cup of coffee in the morning - He drank his, I didn’t (I don’t need coffee that badly!)

Breakfast done and the packing up finished, it was time to hit the road again.  We headed back to the gate, going past Motailane again – the vultures were still there, so a bit of a detour to watch and shoot them again for a while.
Finally, we slowly headed for the gate, with only the usual suspects under the trees making use of the shade provided.  At the gate we got to mark off both the cats and the dogs we’d seen the morning, before starting the 200km trek back to Gaborone.

No comments:

Post a Comment