Trip Report – Our top tips for visiting the Kgalagadi ( part 1 )

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READ UP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN BEFORE YOUR TRIP. Something I normally do anyway as I’m so scared I get back and someone says ”did you see/do xyz” and I had no idea about it ! But even still, the night before departing for KTP I read a blog that advised that one stops at Saamevloeing early am before cruising up to Mata Mata as lion sightings may be the order of the day. Ignoring hubby’s already rolling eyes, we ‘popped’ in to Saamevloeing…. and of course, as he suspected, no lions πŸ™ Hahaaa, until we turned to go…”Hello” Three beautiful ladies, silently padding around the corner towards the waterhole !

 

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LOOK OUT FOR SIGNS OF PREVIOUS SIGHTINGS. Once you have got over the FOMO, look again, you might see footprints going in a particular direction, towards a waterhole or up/down the road – get tracking, you might just get lucky ! πŸ™‚

 

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PACK AT LEAST ONE GOOD BIRD BOOK. Even if you are not a dedicated ‘twitcher’, pack at least one good bird book as it will enrich your every day Kgalagadi experience…. Besides that, the Kgalagadi has so many big and beautiful easy to identify predator birds that you will have a massive sense of satisfaction identifying them.

 

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HIDE ETIQUETTE. Try and remember to be considerate of others when visiting the hides. Approach slowly and quietly. Try not to forget anything like torches, coffee, snacks and camera so that you are not having to come and go all the time. Also try and make sure that the snacks you bring are not of the ‘rustly/crinkly ‘kind…. And don’t be shy, say hello…you just never know what jewel of info your fellow hide mates may come up with….

 

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WATCH WHAT THE WILDLIFE IS WATCHING. If the prey is not happily grazing, sit up straight in your seat… look out for that flick of an ear, or a twitching tail, or that classic stalk and crouch pose of a hungry predator !

 

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KEEP AN EYE ON SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE WEEKS UP TO YOUR TRIP. Most reserves etc have facebook pages where visitors post their sightings. This particular young female leopard had grabbed our imagination before we even left for our trip. Having had to fend for herself from an earlier than usual age, battling along but surviving, we were so hoping to see her in the area where she was regularly seen over the previous few weeks. As if on cue, she came strolling up the road towards us and then into a tree above us. We looked out for her and enjoyed her hunting and stalking shenanigans over the days we were in that area. Knowing about her and what area she was mostly in through regular facebook posts certainly helped us find and enjoy her.

 

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LET YOUR EYES GLAZE OVER. Sometimes, especially if you have been driving for a while, you might feel that your eyeballs are about to pack up from the constant strain of searching and searching. Let your eyes glaze over and simply scan the world as you go by. You will be surprised at how quickly and easily glazed over eyelids will suddenly catch a movement or a break in the pattern of the veld around you….

 

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BE PREPARED FOR HOT DAYS. You will want to drive with your windows open to catch the sights and sounds, thus making your aircon redundant. We found that wearing a wet bandana around our necks helped keep us cool. You might also consider Β splurging on one of those water bottle thingies that have a battery operated fan. Oh and LIP-ICE, there is not much that will prevent you coming home with ‘kalahari lips’ but without lip-ice to ease the pain,you might end up with rather awkward cracked, angry and, Β swollen kissers πŸ™‚

 

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DON’T GET TOO DISTRACTED AND MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE PACKED CABLE JUMPERS / JACKS AND YOUR CAR TOOLS .Thirteenth Borehole kerfuffle…..:) Got distracted watching a pair of lanner falcons hunting birds on the fly…. forgot to switch ignition right off – result, charging fridge and camera batteries run car battery flat… Thankfully Ray from good old East London passed by and became our new best friend πŸ™‚

 

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ANTICIPATE AN ANIMALS NEXT MOVE …. we caught a glimpse of a cheetah, so far away, too far to actually call it a sighting. But we noticed that he looked like he was on the prowl. So we reckoned he was moving towards a nearby higher vantage point and decided to go there and wait for him. Just as we began to think that we had made an error in judgement, he popped up on the rise….. magic !

 

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BE GENEROUS, AND KIND, AND THANKFUL . Believe it or not, you are going to be as thrilled to see the Corrugation Terminator as you would be over a lion kill….okay maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but not far off hey πŸ™‚ When you plan and pack for your trip the the KTP, chuck in a few extra cans of coke and bar ones for these okes…. you will be THAT appreciative of them during the miles and miles of roads you will be covering – #justdoit !

 

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MEAL PLANNING. If like us, you are out the gates at opening time and back at closing time, we found it better to pack more snackie stuff than meals. Things like biltong and dry wors vacume packed in advance, salticrax with flavoured tuna sachets/cheese/fruit/rusks/muffins/mixed nuts … ( oh and those little Woolies salamies are also divine ! ) But do plan at least one or two lunch/brunch skottel cook-ups as it is so lekker to stretch your legs and be ‘out there’ .

 

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LOOK UP ! Sometimes you have to cover great distances with sightings slim on the ground ( not to mention the miles of OhEmGee corrugations ! ) To save your neck from another neck crick looking for spoor, look up every now and then, the sky can throw out some spectacular sightings of its own πŸ™‚

 

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SHARE THE LOVE ! When you have a great sighting, and it involves other vehicles – snap away like mad…. You can post to the relevant facebook pages on your return and very quickly the owner of that vehicle will pop up, uber appreciative to have such memorable images or, like us, you may just meet those peope while still in the park πŸ™‚ A few days after having this experience, we were further north making our way towards Nossob and had stopped at a picnic spot for lunch. Got chatting with a few fellow travelers who were returning from Polentswa, excitedly (and with a touch of bragging I wont lie), we exchanged sighting stories…. πŸ™‚ Thinking he was going to top our tall tales, this chap puffed up his chest to tell us about having a leopard ON HIS CAR ! Hubby, all casual like, glances over to his vehicle and says, ”oh yes, my wife got some awesome photo’s of the leopard on your van”. His face….. priceless πŸ™‚

 

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ORDER IN ! As you can imagine, fresh goods are not easy to come by when you are so far from, well….Woolies πŸ™‚ The good news is that Mata Mata, Kalahari Tented Camp and Nossob offer fresh baked roosterbrood, vetkoek and bread… baked fresh every day for late afternoon collection – I KID YOU NOT ! Tea with a fresh ( fresh baked goods of your choice ) real butter, apricot jam and cheese….. one of life’s most delicious moments …. πŸ™‚

 

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SMELLY STUFF ! I tip I read before our first visit to KTP was to buy a special cream, the recommendation was that ‘Hands, knees heels & elbows’ cream…the reasoning being twofold..one – you skin is so gonna need it and two – once back home, when the longing gets too much, open the jar, take a deep sniff and immediately be transported back to this magic place… It so works, pick your favourite lotion and lather up πŸ™‚

 

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INSPECT YOUR PICNIC SPOT. Β Don’t for a minute think that tumbling out of your car, having a wee, cooking up a storm, having another wee, is all that ‘stopping for lunch’ is going to deliver…no-ho way… look, really look at your surroundings… you just NEVER know what fabulous surprise is awaiting your eager eye… as they say…a good story NEVER started with ‘I had a salad for lunch’ πŸ™‚

 

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LASTLY…PROFUSELY THANK YOUR LONG SUFFERING DRIVER ! …. the guy who parks just right ( mostly ) who is a champion spotter and tracker ( hardly misses ) the one who cooks up a storm, pours the drinks, swallows his frustration, stiffles his yawns and promises to bring you back again πŸ™‚ My hero !

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15 thoughts on “Trip Report – Our top tips for visiting the Kgalagadi ( part 1 )

  • August 15, 2016 at 9:09 pm
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    Hi Ayesha A very comprehensive report for anyone planning their first trip Would have been handy before our first trip in 2010

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    • August 15, 2016 at 9:24 pm
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      Thank you Jim… I’m sure you have a few tips up your sleeve too having spent so much time there… let me know, would love to add them to an updated version of this blog at some stage ?
      A
      xx

      Reply
  • August 15, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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    I have a hero just like yours????The Kgalagadi is a favorite destination . So identify with everything you write????

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    • August 16, 2016 at 6:03 am
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      Hi Helen, lovely to hear from you. It seems that there are a few of them floating around hey, how lucky are we πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • August 16, 2016 at 7:45 am
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    wow Ayesha, this is like a piece of traveller’s gold, such a great report/advice. But blikskottel, now I am even MORE luss to go back!

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    • August 16, 2016 at 7:35 pm
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      Sue, thank you so much… I just could not find my mojo to do a trip report, until I had the idea to do it as a Top Tips blog..thankfully the words just flowed from then on πŸ™‚
      Really appreciate your enthusiastic response and very kind words, thank you very much xx
      A
      x

      Reply
  • August 16, 2016 at 7:55 am
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    What a lovely ‘report’. So many good advise. We’re off for our very first KTP visit in Oct this year. Super excited. Would you recommend any road or area for lion sightings? Our kids are still quite small and we can’t drive around for too long. But I had to promise them that we will see lions. So, now I have to deliver πŸ™‚ Thank you

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    • August 16, 2016 at 7:31 pm
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      Thank you Andreas…. It would seem that the area around Kij Kij is known to have very regular lion sightings. If you dont already have a map, do buy yourself one in the camp shop at Twee Revieren.
      Dont forget to check the Kgalagadi facebook pages the week or so before your trip and make a note of lion sightings posted there – even ask on the groups….
      Wishing you an unforgettable trip !
      Regards
      Ayesha

      Reply
  • August 16, 2016 at 8:08 am
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    Wow! Beautifully written????

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    • August 16, 2016 at 7:29 pm
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      Thank you my friend xx

      Reply
  • August 16, 2016 at 9:14 am
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    So nice to read! Definitely no better place to be than in the Kgalagadi! If you love remote areas you should also visit Swartpan and Mabuasehube! The only tip I can give is that going to the Kgalagadi is not about spotting as many animals as quick as possible. You have to become one with nature, enjoy the landscapes and realize how privileged you are being a guest in this beautiful world of animals. Take your time, spend hours at a waterhole, relax and your sightings will be rewarding!

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    • August 16, 2016 at 7:28 pm
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      That is so true Evelyn, thank you for the reminder and for your great tips !
      Keep well
      Regards
      Ayesha

      Reply
  • August 17, 2016 at 1:41 pm
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    I love it! Well done Ayesha. Thanks for reminding me to thank my “long suffering driver” and long drop cleaner.

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    • September 1, 2016 at 9:27 pm
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      Oh yes…your hubby is defo a keeper !

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  • November 22, 2016 at 11:02 am
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    Hi Ayesha

    Many thanx for taking the trouble to send the link via Malcolm. Much apprecited. As many have said before, should have read this pre rather than post visit.

    Nice to have met you at Rooiputs, defintely improved the ambiance significantly.

    Our life in the Park went downhill after Malcolm left with an altercation with a truck removing snorkel and side mirror followed by tyre shredding on way home via Van Zylsrus. But hey, back at work and dreaming of the next trip.

    regards Ed

    Reply

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