Tuesday, 22 December 2009

KTP - The Hidden Gem - Day 4

Day 4 - Nossob to Bitterpan
Another day, another early drive.  It was a bit of a struggle getting up so early this time, because the black-backed jackals had kept us awake a good part of the night howling and screaming just beyond the fence about 10 meters from our camp.

But we had figured that the morning drives were better than the evening drives, as at least the mornings were nice and cool and the cats would still be active, compared with the evening – even at 7pm it was still extremely hot in December. 

Black-backed jackal pups
We had a booking for Bitterpan – one of the unfenced wilderness camps – that evening, so we decided to do an early morning drive South of Nossob round Marie se Draai before heading to Bitterpan to make the most of our time there.

However, the morning was quiet with us only seeing 2 lionesses far out in the pan, so we headed back to camp, got ice and left for Bitterpan at 9am – the earliest we could leave for the camp.

Ludwig's bustard
As we passed the fence near to where our camp had been, we saw the reason for the howling jackals – there was lion spoor all over the place.  They carried up the road for a while before disappearing into the brush – no doubt somewhere around sleeping off the heat.

The drive to Bitterpan was pretty cool over the red dunes, but it’s pretty sandy – some of those uphills definitely need 4WD. We were surprised at how much vegetation grows on the dunes, it was actually pretty lush for the Kalahari. 

We passed a couple of waterholes on the way but unfortunately both were temporarily out of order, so nothing was around except for a few gemsbok and the ever-present black-backed jackals.

Goshawk with lunch

We arrived at Bitterpan just before lunch and were warmly greeted by Marshall, the field guide.   He showed us around and then let us settle in and enjoy the view.  The setting itself is quite phenomenal – set over a big salt pan with absolutely nothing on it.  There is a waterhole and a couple of gemsbok were heading to it to have a midday drink. 
Brown hyena drinking at the bird bath
Another vehicle arrived just after us and we spent a pleasant afternoon chatting to them and organising our potjie before the other 4 guests arrived.
The highlight of the evening was Marshall calling to us to watch a brown hyena arrive to drink at the small waterhole at the filed guide’s house behind the camp. 

We had a storm brewing, which never materialised, but provided a pretty cool view, especially over the pan with the lightning in the distance to end the evening.

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