December Holiday: A trip to the Kalahari - Part 3

craigcampbell @craigcampbell
· a month ago · 7 min read · South Africa · #wildlife

Introduction

Hey guys!

Welcome to Part 3 of our journey up north. In this post, we leave the small sleepy settlement of Augrabies and hit the long road towards our furthest destination - Nossob Rest Camp in the Kgalagadi National Park (now officially 1322 KM from home).

In the meantime, if you haven't read the first two parts of this series yet, please feel free to go check them out here:

- December Holiday: A trip to the Kalahari - Part 1

- December Holiday: A trip to the Kalahari - Part 2

I may photo-bomb you guys quite a bit in this post - so don't say you haven't been warned! :)


The drive

We left Augrabies at around 7 in the morning and started our 511 KM journey up north. This journey is essentially comprised of two sections:

  1. The first section: From Augrabies up until the entrance of the reserve (i.e. Kgalagadi National Park). This is the fastest section, as it is a normal national tarred road.

  2. The second section: The journey within the park, from the southern border "Twee Rivieren", to our northern destination "Nossob Rest Camp". The road within the reserve is a rather badly corrugated gravel road. There is a speed limit of about 50 KM/H, and it is very important that you adhere to it - for your own safety, as well as that of the animals.

Although this trip is only 511 KM, it can take you up to 8 hours to complete it (sometimes even longer) due to the speed that you are driving within the reserve itself. Time obviously also depends on the amount of game that you end up seeing/viewing (because the trip within the reserve is essentially a game drive within itself).

In any case, we headed up on the long road towards the entrance of the reserve. This was untraveled territory for all of us. But although we were all very excited, we were also all really tired from a bad nights sleep the night before (long story!). The car was quiet as we motored along the dead-straight, quiet road.

This dude is just impossible! I can't take him anywhere. Then again... the Spaniards apparently do love their siestas! :)
This dude is just impossible! I can't take him anywhere. Then again... the Spaniards apparently do love their siestas! :)

Slowly but surely, the landscape started changing. I started noticing taller yellow grasses, denser acacia trees, but most importantly... I saw how the larger, red sand dunes started appearing closer to the road next to us. The atmosphere in the car suddenly started to liven up a bit. It was then that I realised that we are now getting closer to the Kalahari - a place that I've been dreaming about visiting since I was a kid. Only a short while later did that realisation finally sink in. A sign... saying "Welcome to the Kalahari Red Dune Route". I smiled with a feeling a pure joy in my heart. I was exactly where I needed to be.

The red dunes nearing closer to the road.
The red dunes nearing closer to the road.

And that was it! We were finally in the Kalahari. It wasn't much further until we arrived at the entrance gates to the reserve itself (at the Twee Rivieren gate). This is an interesting gate, as it also serves as an official border post between South Africa, Namibia & Botswana. Luckily, because we weren't 'officially' signing into any other countries, we could skip customs and just go straight to the conservation office to 'sign in' and pay our park fees etc.

After signing in at Twee Rivieren, we began our final journey further north... The second section of the days trip.

If you take a look at a map of the reserve, you will see that the road between Twee Rivieren and Nossob is literally situated on the exact border of South Africa and Botswana. This becomes evidently clear when driving on it, because even though you don't "officially" enter into any other country, the park road does however wind in and out of Botswana on several occasions. This is made evident from small concrete pillars that tell you in which country you are busy driving. It's quite interesting - in my opinion.

In any case, this section of the trip was very slow, but we were all on the lookout for wild animals. We knew that the Kalahari had a lot to offer, so were always on high alert. It was extremely hot up there. Averaging around 40°C (104°F). But even though it was so hot, we were still seeing animals - which was awesome!

We saw stacks of Gemsbok (my favourite!), Wildebeest, Springbok etc. We also saw tons of very interesting birds - including some specials such as Goshawks, Vultures, Eagles, Secretarybirds, Bee-eaters, Falcons, Kestrels etc.

Gemsbok.
Gemsbok.

Blue Wildebeest
Blue Wildebeest

Secretarybirds
Secretarybirds

Pale-chanting Goshawk
Pale-chanting Goshawk

Just as we thought we were seeing it all... We even saw a few canines! This was incredibly exciting as two of them were firsts for me! I've lived in Africa my whole life, and somehow have still never managed to see a Brown Hyena or a Leopard in the wild. So this was truly special!

Leopard spending some time in the shade.
Leopard spending some time in the shade.

Another photo of the Leopard.
Another photo of the Leopard.

<img alt="Brown Hyena. In Namibia, we call this a "Strandwolf"." src="

" width="6000" height="4000" />

Black-backed Jackal.
Black-backed Jackal.

Black-backed Jackal.
Black-backed Jackal.


Nossob Rest Camp

After several hours of driving and game viewing, we finally arrived at our furthest point up north - Nossob Rest Camp. By the time we arrived, the sun was already setting and we were ready to unpack and settle into our chalet. Nossob is a beautiful rest camp with all the amenities that one could possibly need. We booked a family chalet so that the four of us could all be together in one place. It was very decent accommodation with clean bedrooms/bathrooms, and even an air conditioner in the main bedroom. My recommendation to anyone visiting is to also book one of these chalets. Camping is a load of fun (believe me, I love it!), but it is so unbelievably hot up here that the chalets really do make things a lot more bearable for you. It really does make a significant difference, if you ask me.

In any case, I was in the middle of unpacking my things when my friend, Patxi, called me because apparently there was a Cheetah at the waterhole nearby... Like seriously? Can't a guy catch a break from all the excitement?! XD haha. What a lovely way to reach your destination!

Cheetah at the camps' waterhole.
Cheetah at the camps' waterhole.

After a few photos, we packed up, had a braai (barbecue, but better) and went to bed.

A Yellow Mongoose trying to get to our braai meat! (Photo: Vicky Garcia).
A Yellow Mongoose trying to get to our braai meat! (Photo: Vicky Garcia).


Driving in the North

The next morning we did some general driving around in the northern section to see what we could find. Similar to the drive up, we saw quite a bit. However, to simplify things, let me stop talking and rather just show you some of our interesting sightings! :)

Kalahari Sunrise. (Photo: Vicky Garcia).
Kalahari Sunrise. (Photo: Vicky Garcia).

Another Kalahari Sunrise. (Photo: Vicky Garcia).
Another Kalahari Sunrise. (Photo: Vicky Garcia).

General scenery.
General scenery.

Taking photos of people taking photos.
Taking photos of people taking photos.

Black-backed Jackal.
Black-backed Jackal.

Black-backed Jackal chasing doves at a waterhole (Photo: Vicky Garcia).
Black-backed Jackal chasing doves at a waterhole (Photo: Vicky Garcia).

Ground Squirrel (Photo: Vicky Garcia).
Ground Squirrel (Photo: Vicky Garcia).

One of Southern Africa's most beautiful antelope. The 'Kudu'.
One of Southern Africa's most beautiful antelope. The 'Kudu'.

Some Springbok trying to hide away from the hot midday sun.
Some Springbok trying to hide away from the hot midday sun.

A Martial Eagle also trying to stay out of the sun (Photo: Vicky Garcia).
A Martial Eagle also trying to stay out of the sun (Photo: Vicky Garcia).


Sunset Game Drive

During our second night at Nossob, we decided to spoil ourselves to a sunset game drive. It was a lot of fun, and our tour guide was very knowledgeable. Unfortunately, we didn't see as many animals as what we had hoped for, but were still generally happy with that which we did see, in the end. Once again, we saw Brown Hyena and Cheetah :) Here are some photographs for you to see:

Sunset on the game drive.
Sunset on the game drive.

A Spotted Eagle-owl.
A Spotted Eagle-owl.

Cruising in the game drive vehicle.
Cruising in the game drive vehicle.

Vicky busy doing some 'spotting' (looking for the animals by trying to see the reflection of the light in their eyes).
Vicky busy doing some 'spotting' (looking for the animals by trying to see the reflection of the light in their eyes).

Spring Hare. It's as if a Rabbit and a Kangaroo had a baby :)
Spring Hare. It's as if a Rabbit and a Kangaroo had a baby :)

Cheetah at a waterhole.
Cheetah at a waterhole.

Brown Hyena.
Brown Hyena.


And that's pretty much it! We finished up our game drive and headed back to the chalet.

Overall it was a very good stay up in the north, and we were very lucky to see everything that we did! The weather was perfect, and the company was even better. The perfect way to spend a holiday!

I'll leave the story here for now, but be sure to stay tuned in for the next entry in the series, where we explore the south of the Kalahari a bit more.

Until then, thanks for reading and take care of yourself!

Regards,

Craig.


Topics: WILDLIFEPHOTOGRAPHYTRAVELADVICENATURE

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