Thursday, 24 December 2009

KTP - The Hidden Gem - Day 6

Cheetah silhouette
Day 6 - Two Rivers to Nossob
The morning started well (as we’ve come to expect!) with 3 cheetahs on the ridge at Auchterlonie on the other side of the river.  After spending some time there, they finally headed down to lay under a tree a lot closer to the road. 
Cheetah on the hunt
Then they spotted a lone springbok and started to stalk it.  It’s amazing to watch – as soon as the springbok looked up, the cheetahs froze in mid-stride until the springbok relaxed again and went back to eating.  The cheetah were making good progress until one of them made a mistake and the springbok took off at a rate of knots – we suspect he’s somewhere in Upington by now!

After that bit of excitement, we headed up the Auob River Rd for a while before coming back and turning at Auchterlonie to take the lower road towards Nossob, where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. 
Mating lions
We had just reached the intersection at Kij Kij when we saw a car sitting in the hot sun – that’s got to mean something worth braving the heat for.  And sure enough a mating pair of lions, plus another lioness nearby.

After watching them (and their pretty unenthusiastic performance) for a while, we headed up the Nossob River.  We were just reaching the Gunong waterhole when we spotted 2 cars stopped in the road.  There, right next to the road about 2m away, were 4 male lions resting under a tree.

Doing what lions do best - sleeping
There were pretty chilled out and lay around until we finally left them sleeping about half an hour later and got to the Nossob camp, but not before seeing another 3 lions sleeping under a tree about a kilometre from the Nossob entrance.  We were told by some of the campers that about a dozen or more lions had been around the Nossob waterhole the evening before and they’d been roaring the whole night.  So the lions were around…

Wild flowers in the Kgalagadi
While we knew the lions were South of Nossob, we decided to head in the other direction to see what else was around.  And we were lucky – after hanging around the Kwang waterhole for a while we were heading back when we spotted something move behind a tree trunk.  We could see about 5 black-backed jackals around the area with youngsters, but when we drove around to get a view of the other side of the tree, there we saw a cheetah, right next to a dead springbok. 

Lappet-faced vultures
We must have missed the hunt and kill by only a few minutes, because he was still lying there catching his breath before he started to eat, with the jackals nipping at his heels.  Unfortunately, just too far for the camera to pick up the action but we managed to get some nice video of it before heading back to the camp before gate closing time.

After dinner and being entertained by the local community kids singing Christmas carols for everyone (it was Christmas eve after all), we decided to head to the hide to check it out properly for a while and were instantly rewarded by walking in to an empty hide and finding 2 young male lions drinking at the waterhole.  Considering how quiet it can be during the day, this was a real bonus and a great way to finish off the evening.

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